BALTIMORE (WJZ) — M&T Bank Stadium’s seats will be empty at the start of the 2020 season as the Baltimore Ravens announced Monday they will not host fans due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“After consulting with government officials and public health experts, we will not host fans at M&T Bank Stadium for at least the initial part of the 2020 season,” the team said in a tweet Monday.
Statement from the Baltimore Ravens.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) August 24, 2020
They said the organization will continue to monitor and adjust accordingly to all developments around the coronavirus pandemic, working in communication with local and state officials.
M&T Bank Great Baltimore Regional President said in a statement Monday afternoon they understand and respect the decision by the Ravens:
“Of course we would prefer an environment where thousands of screaming fans can cheer for the Ravens inside of M&T Bank Stadium. But, unfortunately, that isn’t the case right now, and we understand and respect the decision of the Ravens, elected officials and health experts completely. Meanwhile, M&T will continue to be the official bank of the Baltimore Ravens and work with the organization to adjust and find new ways to partner with the Ravens on marketing and sponsorship opportunities. We look forward to being able to again welcome fans and host customers and friends on Ravens game days, but we also know the health and well-being of our employees, customers, the players and staff, and those who work at M&T Bank Stadium is the top priority.”
Players had been bracing for the expected decision.
“It’s going to be tough without the fans being there,” linebacker Patrick Queen said prior to Monday’s announcement. “That’s what everybody looks forward to is the fans, but you’re still playing football. I’m looking forward to a lot, just being able to come onto an NFL field and play with my team and be able to showcase my talents on the next level.”
A number of fans said while they were disappointed with the decision, they believe it’s the right choice to protect players, coaches and the thousands who flock to the stadium for each home game.
“It’s probably a hard decision for the players and for the die-hard fans, but I think it’s probably the safest choice for everyone at this time,” Ravens fan Jamie Levine said.
“For now, it makes sense,” Elaina Bowman added.
Fans realize the decision will also give the season a completely different feel.
“We’ll be watching them at home on our TV as a family,” Levine said.
“We’ll be supporting them from the parking lot or Federal Hill or wherever we can,” fan Gae Smith said.
Karen Henley with Ravens Roost 50 in Baltimore County said without team travel or in-person tailgates, the charitable organization will have a hard time raising money.
“What we really generate money from that lot, we’re not going to make this year at all,” Henley said.
Popular sports hangout spots like Mother’s Federal Hill Grille said it’s now adapting its yearly purple patio tailgate so that fans can come and also be socially distant.
“(We will) make sure that people have as much fun as they would normally have but also make sure that we’re abiding by the rules and regulations,” manager David Pollitt said.