As the world gets back to a more normal — and less defined by COVID-19 — reality, the Cleveland Browns will be getting back to normal too.
The NFL, per a report from cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, told teams that they can have fans in attendance at training camp this summer. To do so, teams will need to follow local guidelines for masks and social distancing.
In Ohio, COVID-19 public health orders are soon to be rolled back entirely. As of June 2, the mask mandate and other orders will be reversed. Some private businesses in the state have already removed mask mandates for fully vaccinated customers.
Additionally, the Browns are expected to have full capacity for home games by the start of the preseason. By November of last year, despite a stay-at-home advisory in place for Cuyahoga Country, as many as 12,000 fans were welcomed back to FirstEnergy Stadium. Its full capacity is 67.895.
The team has not yet announced its plans for either training camp or home games, but both are significant. Training camp for the Browns is an event and, in a non-pandemic world, often requires a lottery to fairly doll out available tickets. Training camp is an event in its own right for the team and if it can come back at full force this summer, it will be a sign of everything is continuing on the path to normal.
Cleveland also will have a number of storylines to follow in training camp. Most notably. Odell Beckham Jr. will make his return from the ACL injury and subsequent surgery that ended his season last year. The team also is a legitimate Super Bowl contender — the Browns’ have top-10 odds from most sports books — so training camp being open to the public would be a big, big deal.
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Last year, when fans were not allowed to attend training camp, the team aired a show called “Browns Live: Training Camp” on various platforms that broke down what was happening on the field in real time. It is unclear if the show will return in the same format this year or air in a different format.
A full stadium would also be a significant return to normal. A lack of ticket sales — not due to a lack of demand, but due to COVID-19 — hurt the team (and every other team) last year financially. One year of full stadiums and all that comes with that will not replace all of the last revenue. But it will help the Browns to pack FirstEnergy Stadium for every home game.
Veterans, per the NFL CBA, will report to camp on July 27. For most teams, the actual start date for the camp is July 31. The Browns will host the Jaguars in their one home preseason game at a to-be-determined date and time. Their first regular season home game is Sunday, September 19th against the Texans.
Source: Forbes – Business