The Pittsburgh Steelers are still expected to play against the Dallas Cowboys in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 5 in Canton, Ohio.
But the idea of that game and the week of ceremonies leading up to it being attended by fans is looking fairly bleak.
“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, it’s a great great event that we’ve been looking forward to, having a crowd that size is highly unlikely,” Ohio governor Mike DeWine said on Tuesday.
“Certainly, it could not occur today. It would be very dangerous to do it today.
The Memorial Golf Tournament, which will be held on July 19, two hours southeast of Canton in Dublin, Ohio, will allow 8,000 fans, so perhaps the outdoor portions of the ceremonies will be permitted to have crowds, but fans in stands in the building does not seem to be in the cards for now.
“Again, we have to see where we are at that point, but that’s a large crowd, a lot of people together,” DeWine said. “These are the things that we’ve talked about all the way through this as we open Ohio up and we get back to work and we get back to doing the things that we like, probably the last things that are going to be able to be open are the big crowds, particularly when you have big crowds that are close together. So we have to continue to look at it and make decisions as we move forward, but if the question was, ‘could that even occur today?’ the answer would be, ‘no.’”
The early August game is traditionally the first to be played of the NFL season and is generally one of the very first competitive American football games played in the entire season.
That means the Hall of Fame Game will be something of a guinea pig for all of the policies and procedures put into place in order to combat the continued threat of coronavirus, from the players on the field, to whether or not there are fans in the stands and much more.
Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted added that the state has in been in close contact with the Hall of Fame about planning for events.