Why reduced capacity hurts the Detroit Lions more than you think

Detroit Lions fans (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Detroit Lions fans (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Due to the coronavirus, NFL teams has been forced to limit capacity at games this upcoming season. This restriction could hurt the Detroit Lions greatly.

In late June, the NFL announced that they will be leaving it up to the respective teams to decide what their capacity limit should be this upcoming season. The Detroit Lions‘ home, Ford Field, currently can hold 65,000 people. At 50% capacity, it can hold 32,500.

Due to the Lions playing in an enclosed dome with no retractable roof, I wouldn’t be surprised to see either an empty stadium, or 25% capacity this upcoming season. The less people there are in Ford Field, the worse the situation gets for the Lions, and here’s why.

There are two key factors when you talk about home-field advantage in the NFL. One factor is the elements, meaning weather, and the other factor is the home crowd obviously. The Detroit Lions already don’t have one of these factors, and that’s the weather (unless you want to count the lack of A/C as a factor).

So even in a normal NFL season, Detroit is already behind the 8-ball in the home-field advantage department. How do they make up for that? Crowd noise. Being in an enclosed dome, Lions fans can really ramp up the noise and rattle the other team, and/or give their team momentum or an energy boost.

Now, you may be sitting here thinking this isn’t that big of a deal, but in reality it is. Think of how many times you’ve seen the away team have to call a timeout, or concede a delay of game, simply because the home crowd was too loud for them to function. The Lions got threatened with a penalty by officials because of too much crowd noise back in 1997 in the Pontiac Silverdome.

That’s just one example out of a huge sample of situations where crowd noise has played a factor. There are other areas where the crowd can play a factor, like on PAT’s or field goals. But now, due to the coronavirus pandemic, Detroit will either not have any crowd noise, or it will be greatly reduced to the point to where it’s not a factor.

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Again, I may just be nitpicking here, but I feel like the crowd’s influence on a game is something that a lot of people take for granted. It’s one of those things that you don’t know the impact of until it’s gone.

On the flip side, maybe it won’t be that much of a loss at all. I mean, it’s not like Ford Field wasn’t already at 25% capacity by seasons end last year (besides Thanksgiving). It should be interesting to see how the limited crowd plays a factor throughout the season.