No vaccine, no sporting events, fans say in Seton Hall poll
If the doors of MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford could open to the public for the rest of the Giants and Jets home NFL games this season, would fans actually want to show up?
That question has nothing to do with the teams' win-loss records so far in 2020 ... instead, the general public's hesitance related to COVID-19.
According to a Seton Hall Sports Poll of more than 1,500 adults, 58% of Americans would not attend an outdoor sporting event without the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine, even if the event required mask-wearing and social distancing. An even greater percentage, 67%, would not attend an indoor event under the same circumstances before a vaccine for the respiratory illness is widely available.
"From a business perspective, that's an awful amount of tickets you're leaving on the table," said Daniel Ladik, methodologist for the poll. "Even among the avid sports fans who are die-hard fanatics, 43% of those fans still would not go to a live indoor sporting event."
The poll did not specifically ask about professional sporting events, which may be why the likelihood of attending events was greater among respondents with children under the age of 18. Ladik said respondents may have had youth events on their mind when responding.
The poll was conducted between Nov. 13 and Nov. 16, as states across the country reported a surge in COVID-19 cases and additional restrictions to control the spread of the virus.
"We're going to keep polling on this topic," Ladik said.
Earlier this month, Gov. Phil Murphy announced that indoor interstate sports competition would end on Nov. 12. An executive order reducing limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings essentially bans spectators at indoor sporting events, and caps the numbers of fans outdoors at 150.
MetLife Stadium, which has a capacity of more than 82,000, has not had fans in the seats since the start of the 2020 NFL season. Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, home of the Eagles, allowed about 7,500 fans in the stadium for home games, but due to city restrictions is no longer permitting spectators.
Poll respondents were also asked whether they think fans in the stands, even at a limited capacity, provide an advantage for the home team. About 53% of respondents who described themselves as "sports fans" said fans do give the home team an edge. Just 27% of respondents felt that "virtual fans" in venues and on TV broadcasts were a good replacement for actual fans.
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.