“The NFL and our 32 member clubs are committed to doing our part to ensure that vaccines are as widely accessible in our communities as possible,” league commissioner Roger Goodell said to the President in a February 4 letter made public today (read it here). “To that end, each NFL team will make its stadium available for mass vaccinations of the general public in coordination with local, state, and federal health officials.”
Now, as the good citizens and football fans of the Carolina Panthers, the Arizona Cardinals, the Atlanta Falcons, the Baltimore Ravens, the Houston Texans, the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots are well aware, there are already seven NFL stadiums in operation as vaccine locations. The NFL anticipates getting the bulk of the remaining 25 stadiums online to help combat the coronavirus pandemic within a matter of weeks, a league source tells me.
In San Francisco, the 49ers’ owners Friday said that Levi’s Stadium will become a vaccination site for the general public starting next week – making it instantly the largest site in the Golden State. On the other side of the hurting nation, MLB’s Yankee Stadium just started providing vaccinations today. Of course, having been a testing site for months, LA’s Dodger Stadium shifted to offering vaccinations a few weeks back.
The NFL’s marquee buildings include the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium and the new SoFi Stadium near Los Angeles, home to the Rams and Raiders. Both are mammoth structures but are topped in seating capacity by the league’s oldest stadium, Lambeau Field in Green Bay, WI, which holds nearly 81,500. The league’s biggest stadium by capacity is the Washington Football Team’s FedEx Field in Landover, MD, which seats 82,000.
Due to the ongoing health crisis, Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium will have only 25,000 fans actually in the stands watching hometowners the Buccaneers battle Kansas City Chiefs in Sunday’s Super Bowl. With social distancing and free provided PPE kits given out to everyone, there will be, as Goodell noted in his letter to the President, “7,500 vaccinated health care workers from across the country, who will attend as our guests in gratitude for their heroic service and to highlight the importance of vaccinations as our country recovers from the pandemic.”
“We look forward to further discussion with your administration as well as your partners in state and local governments to advance this effort,” the NFL’s always PR savvy Goodell told the Commender-in-chief in the timely correspondence, sure to cast the NFL in a positive light. “Thank you for your leadership and for allowing the NFL to assist your public health efforts,” the commissioner concluded as Biden moves closer to getting his $1.9 trillion Covid relief package through Congress.
There has been no official response from the White House yet to the NFL’s letter and offer.
However, perhaps the matter will come up when POTUS sits down with CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell this afternoon for a pre-Super Bowl interview.
Resuscitating the traditional pre-game Q&A with the network host, Biden’s interview with O’Donnell will run in full at around 4 PM ET on February 7 just before the Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City face-off in the former’s own stadium.