In another attempt to combat COVID-19, the NFL is planning to tarp off the first six to eight rows in stadiums to ensure distance between players and coaches from fans if they are present, according to a report by Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal.
The measure has also opened up a lucrative opportunity for clubs, as they will be able to sell sponsorship signage on the tarps that will be visible on television broadcasts. Selling this signage is intended help combat some of the lost revenue teams are expecting as a result of the pandemic.
Fischer reports that the plan was shared with team presidents on Tuesday, and that the proposal will be presented to league owners in a meeting tomorrow.
The idea has already been implemented in Europe, as the English Premier League began repurposing empty seating for advertisement when the top-flight soccer league returned last week.
While the proposal seems like a brilliant solution by coupling COVID-19 measures with revenue generation, there are some restrictions.
Sponsors can not conflict with league sponsors, such as Pepsi and Verizon, which means that team naming rights and local sponsors should be in the clear. No indications has been made if gambling companies will have access to these opportunities.
This will be the first time ever that clubs will be allowed to sell their own sponsorship on the field level, but the policy will be limited to just the 2020 season. In the past, clubs have been prevented from placing signage within 40 feet of the playing surface. Microsoft, Bose, Gatorade and Oakley are currently the only brands that enjoy the luxury of regular, on-camera brand exposure during the television broadcast.
Though it would appear that the league would institute these new measures with the intent of having fans for the 2020 season, no official announcement has been made yet by the league regarding empty stadiums this year.
The Steelers have announced that they have limited single-game ticket sales in an attempt to plan ahead for mandates of less than capacity crowds.