It seemed overly optimistic when the Pro Football Hall of Fame expressed optimism about hosting its annual Hall of Fame Game with fans in attendance.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine was on the other end of the optimism scale, saying it’s highly unlikely the game between the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers happens with a large group of fans. And the stadium in Canton holds only about 23,000 fans.
The game, which is the first preseason game and the unofficial kickoff of the football season, is still scheduled for Aug. 6. What it will look like, if it happens, is still up in the air.
Ohio governor isn’t anticipating a crowd at Hall of Fame Game
DeWine shooting down the idea of a game happening with 20,000 fans in August isn’t a great sign for larger crowds being allowed to attend games in September and beyond.
Governor DeWine said it's "highly unlikely" that crowds of around 20k would be allowed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game and HOF Enshrinement ceremony in August.— Zac Jackson (@AkronJackson) June 16, 2020
"If the question was could that event occur today, the answer would be no. It would be extremely dangerous."
DeWine has said the last thing to reopen in Ohio would be events with large crowds.
“As much as I hate to say this, because we’ve all been looking forward to that and I know how much it means to the Canton area and the Stark County area, and really across the country,” DeWine said, according to Fox8, “having a crowd that size is highly unlikely. Certainly it could not occur today, it would be very dangerous to do it today.”
If there are no fans allowed at the Hall of Fame Game, it might mean the game gets canceled altogether. It’s an extra game for both teams and might not be worth traveling to Canton to play in an empty stadium.
Hall of Fame was optimistic about fans at game
When the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s museum reopened last week, there was also optimism about the biggest weekend of the year for the Hall, the induction ceremony and game. Hall of Fame vice president of communications Rich Desrosiers told CBS that the Hall was hoping the game, with fans, could “almost be the test case” for the NFL going forward.
DeWine poured a lot of cold water on that possibility Tuesday. It won’t be the last time there’s a positive outlook by a team or league about games and fans, and the governor has a more pragmatic approach.
The football season will go on if there’s no Hall of Fame Game, or if it happens with no fans or a limited crowd. But it’s a reminder that there are a lot of hurdles to cross before football returns.
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