The audience watching the Philadelphia Phillies on NBC Sports Philadelphia or listening to games on SportsRadio 94 WIP may reach an all-time high in 2020.
Justine McDaniel and Sean Collins Walsh of The Philadelphia Inquirer spoke with Philadelphia health commissioner Thomas Farley Tuesday, who was optimistic about the chances for sports to successfully complete their 2020 seasons. He doesn’t, however, believe that fans can be allowed at games in 2020, even in reduced amounts, and neither does outgoing city managing director Brian Abernathy.
”I do think that games can be played with the kind of safety precautions that they’re proposing. I do not think that they can have spectators at those games. There’s no way for them to be safe having a crowd there,” Farley said. “I can’t say what the plans are for the league, but from a safety perspective, they can play games but not [have] crowds.”
“The Eagles are still going to be allowed to play, although without crowds. The Phillies will continue to be allowed to play, although without crowds,” Managing Director Brian Abernathy said.
Wednesday, Philadelphia announced that large gatherings had been banned through February as the world continues to wait on a vaccine for COVID-19. There had been some thought initially that this may not apply to the Phillies, Eagles, Sixers and Flyers, though these two statements seem to nix that line of thinking.
It’s unclear, even if there had been a loophole in the announcement, if the Phillies would have tried to have some level of fans in attendance at any point during this season. The Phillies are set to host the Miami Marlins for opening day on Friday, July 24.
Without wide-spread availability of testing – and less than 100 percent accuracy in the ones that can be had – there simply wasn’t a way to have fans, even while wearing masks, safely packed into Citizens Bank Park in 2020. Even as testing becomes more accessible, it would seemingly be a logistical nightmare to test fans outside games. It’s also unclear if fans that don’t live within a certain geographic region would be eligible to attend games. There are simply too many moving parts.
It probably shouldn’t be assumed that fans will be able to attend games at full capacity – or maybe even any capacity – at the start of the 2021 season either. There are varying estimates on when a vaccine for COVID-19 will become available, and even once one receives appropriate medical clearances, it will need to be pushed out in large quantities for large gatherings to once again be deemed safe. The Phillies are slated to begin the 2021 season at home against the Atlanta Braves on April 1.
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