The Jets and Giants will play their regular-season games without fans at MetLife Stadium this fall, the teams announced in a joint statement Monday, nearly three weeks after Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey issued an executive order limiting social gatherings to 500 people. The teams are the first in the N.F.L. to decide to forego fans, and the revenue they bring, when the season begins in September.
Both teams said in the statement that they would continue to work with the governor and update the status of a no-fan plan, if necessary.
“We support Governor Murphy’s decision in the interest of public health and safety and, until circumstances change, both the Giants and Jets will play our games without the benefit of fans in attendance,” the teams said in the statement.
New Jersey, home of MetLife Stadium, has seen a sharp reduction in the number of coronavirus cases in the past two months, and has been slower than other states to relax social distancing guidelines and closures after being one of the hardest hit states at the outbreak’s onset in March. Gov. Murphy’s order to raise the number of people allowed at public gatherings to 500 from 250 came in early July.
Rutgers University will also abide by the limitation this college football season but will allow 500 fans to attend its home games, the school said in a statement Monday.
Neither N.F.L. team’s training camps and practices will be open to the public. The Jets will warm up for their training camp in Florham Park, N.J., while the Giants prepare at MetLife at the end of July. In recent weeks, both the Miami Dolphins and Green Bay Packers also announced that they would hold training camps and preseason games without fans, but both stopped short of saying that they would not admit spectators at regular-season games.
Season-ticket holders for both N.F.L. teams are permitted to transfer credits to the 2021-22 season or apply for a full refund. Other teams have either deferred all season tickets or announced plans for half-capacity stadiums, however none have announced a no-fan policy. Restrictions on gatherings in many states across the nation may make crowded stands impossible when the season begins on Sept. 10.
But the N.F.L. has not issued any league-wide fan restrictions. Decisions on attendance are up to each team in accordance with guidance from state and local government officials and public health experts, a league spokesman said in an email.
The season is expected to kick off on time despite an upswing in infections across the United States in recent weeks. The team owners and the N.F.L. Players Association are still negotiating safety protocols, but both sides agree that they want to play this season, safely.
The Jets and Giants teams were two of 13 N.F.L. teams that Ticket IQ, which tracks sales, recommended fans wait to purchase tickets for given local coronavirus outbreaks. Still, the Jets and Giants may bring their audiences back to home games, should New Jersey crowd restrictions change in the coming months. And if they’re allowed to, experts say, fans will be there.
“We’ve seen a lot of demand for events that are allowed to happen,” said Jesse Lawrence, the founder of Ticket IQ. “If the safety measures are in place, we expect that fans will come back.”