It was the news we expected to hear, but it doesn’t hurt any less.
The first three Seattle Seahawks home games of the 2020 NFL season will be played in front of an empty 71,000-seat CenturyLink Field stadium.
The Seahawks announced Wednesday that after consulting with public health and government officials, Seattle’s Sunday Night Football meeting vs. New England in Week 2, Dallas in Week 3 and Minnesota in Week 5 will all be played without the 12s in attendance.
"After careful consideration, we have made the difficult determination to play at least our first three home games (Sept. 20, Sept. 27 and Oct. 11) without fans in attendance," the Seahawks said in a statement. "While CenturyLink Field has become the best home field advantage in the league thanks to the energy and passion of the 12s, the health and safety of all of our fans, players and staff remains our top priority. While we are hopeful that conditions will improve as the season moves forward, we will continue to follow the lead of public health and government officials to make future decisions about having fans in attendance."
For years, Seattle's home-field advantage has been the talk of the NFL as the roaring 12s provide Seattle with an edge of its own. Now, the Seahawks will have to take their road warrior mentality into every game.
Speaking on Monday, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said his team has been preparing for the harsh reality that they may have to play in front of a fan-less crowd. He said it wouldn’t, however, change the team's game preparation.
“It doesn’t impact anything really other than we’ll be familiar with that when we go into the stadium a couple times here, there won’t be any fans there so that’ll be our first chance,” Carroll said. “We’ll really try to use our imagination to get the sense of that. So it’s totally relative. To not have the 12s in the stadium, OK I don’t know that it’s relative because we have a great crowd that goes nuts. Other places I don’t know how much they count on their fans. But we’ll be accustomed to it, to some extent. Once we’re there and we’ve done it a couple times it won’t be a big deal.”
The team says if conditions improve and it is determined that it is safe for fans to return in a limited capacity, the Seahawks will reach out directly to season-ticket holders to provide them with updated gameday details.
The news comes just days after the Atlanta Falcons announced the two teams’ matchup in Week 1 at Mercedes Benz Stadium would be played without fans in the stands. It’s not yet been determined if fans will be able to attend Seattle’s Week 4 game against the Dolphins in Miami.