NFL cuts preseason games and reduces capacity at stadiums

The NFL did this week what everyone has been hoping it would do for years. Reduce the pre-season games to two.

We all know that the pre-season is a money grab for the NFL owners, and the quality of the play leaves a lot to be desired.

Most players have said they only need two games to get into game shape and be ready to go on opening day.

It’s a huge disadvantage for those guys that are free agents and need the reps to have a chance to impress the coaches and make the team.

It took the COVID-19 pandemic to get the NFL to reduce the pre-season and I don’t know if we ever go back to a full slate of four pre-season games.

With training camps opening on July 28th, the league felt that with the pre-season kicking off the week of August 13th, that would not give teams enough time to get in football shape.

The Bucs two pre-season games will be August 22nd  And then August 29th. This will be our first chance to see Tom Brady in a Buccaneer uniform.

Saturday, August 29th is scheduled to be the second and final pre-season game at home against the Tennessee Titans

The pre-season schedules will be re-done so that each team has one home game and one away game. So nothing official on the two-week pre-season schedule yet.

I would anticipate that final game being moved to Thursday as the final week of the pre-season always finishes up on Thursday.

That gives teams ten days to prepare for their opening game and make roster adjustments.

With the COVID pandemic, the two games should give teams a chance to acclimate to the new normal.

Travel for games will now be radically different than it was before the pandemic. There has been a discussion of some teams flying in and out of the cities on game day.

The two pre-season games will give teams a chance to work through the logistics of a home game and a road game.

Each team will need a dry run as to how they are going to prepare for home games and also road games.

The situation is very fluid right now and will be changing day by day as the calendar gets closer to the pre-season.

Training camp is scheduled to open on July 28th for all teams, with the first pre-season games coming the week of August 22nd.

Rookies will be reporting the week of July 21 according to Pro Football Talk. The rookies will have a COVID test on the 19th and then begin conditioning drills on the 21st.

The veterans will have their COVID test on the 26th before beginning workouts on the 28th.

This is all subject to union approval.

Seating capacity will also be reduced at all NFL stadiums. The first eight rows will have no fans sitting there as those rows will be used as a barrier to protect the fans from the players. The rows will be used for advertising to help the teams recoup some of the lost revenue with the limited capacity.

The Bucs will miss out on ticket and concession revenue from those seats, but with the sponsorship logos covering the seats, that will result in ad revenue which will help cover some of the losses.

Some other interesting things being talked about that will affect the fan’s experience at Raymond James Stadium.

All fans may be asked to sign a waiver that they will not hold the club responsible should they catch the Coronavirus.

Fans may have to wear a mask. I personally can’t wait to wear a mask in 100-degree heat in September and sit outside for four hours.

Depending on where your seat is in the stadium, you may have designated entry and exit areas.

There will be no moving around inside the stadium. Once you are in, you will have to stay in the location of your seats.

There is also a good possibility that some season ticket holders will have their money refunded, as they will not be able to attend the games due to limits on capacity.

With the ticket holders in the first eight rows of the stadium, those ticket holders will have to be relocated somewhere else inside the stadium.

Some ticket holders will get bumped, unfortunately.

The Bucs have currently stopped selling season tickets on their website. Ticket Reps will be reaching out to season ticket holders in the next few weeks to advise them of their plan for the 202o season.

It appears that the league is going to allow the local teams in conjunction with the local leaders to determine if fans at all will be allowed in the stadium.

Some cities may have fans in the stands, and some cities will not.

This will likely change numerous times between now and the mid-September, so will not know anything definitive until mid September.

This will remain a changing situation and will change weekly if not daily right up until  opening weekend.