After a regular season without the general public filling the bleachers, Lambeau Field will be back at full capacity in time for the 2021 preseason. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, NFL executive Peter O’Reilly held a conference call with teams on Tuesday and revealed that all but two of the 32 NFL teams have received approval to fill their seating bowls fully by August.
Only the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos have yet to receive that approval, but both are expected to receive it before the start of the preseason. That means that the Packers are one of the 30 teams already cleared to open up for full capacity. With the Milwaukee Brewers’ stadium, American Family Field, moving from 50% to 100% capacity on June 25th, there should be no local barriers to the Packers filling Lambeau by mid-August.
This is a significant boost for the Packers, for whom local revenue accounts for a substantial portion of overall revenues. Only a few local first responders were allowed to attend games late in the regular season and Lambeau Field was kept at limited capacity for the two postseason games.
Additionally, O’Reilly informed teams that the league also expects to allow fans to attend training camp this summer. Depending on state and local health orders, the Packers’ typical traditions — riding bicycles and holding a slew of open practices — may be curtailed somewhat, but there should be some semblance of tradition returning to Green Bay.
Finally, the NFL will have its teams all start training camp on the same day in 2021. July 27th will be the date for all teams that open the season on Sunday of week one, as the league plans to implement a provision in the Collective Bargaining Agreement that allows camps to begin 47 days prior to teams’ regular season openers. Three teams will open ahead of that date, including the two teams playing in this year’s Hall of Fame Game (the Cowboys and Steelers) and the two opening up on Thursday Night Football in week one (the Buccaneers and, again, the Cowboys).
With vaccination rates continuing to climb across the United States, the NFL has the benefit of another two months of time before camps can open. This guidance is surely predicated on the league’s research and discussions with health authorities across the country. But with recent eased guidance from the Centers for Disease Control on masking and distancing requirements for fully-vaccinated individuals, the league evidently feels comfortable that current trends will allow for a more normal fan experience later on this summer.