Roger Goodell: We expect full stadiums in 2021

That optimistic goal is dependent on local jurisdiction, but already Mayor Lori Lightfoot has helped pave the way for fans to attend Fire games at Soldier Field — in addition to having Cubs and Sox fans to attend games at Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field.

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The Bears and the NFL are looking forward to having fans return to Soldier Field for Bears games in 2021. No fans were allowed in the stadium because of coronavirus restrictions.

Kiichiro Sato/AP Photos

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he expects to have full stadiums for the 2021 season — a prime point of discussion at the NFL owners virtual meetings Tuesday. 

That optimistic goal is dependent on local jurisdiction, but already Mayor Lori Lightfoot has helped pave the way for fans to attend Fire games at Soldier Field — in addition to having Cubs and Sox fans to attend games at Wrigley Field and Guaranteed Rate Field. So the momentum is heading in the right direction. 

Most NFL stadiums, including Soldier Field, were empty last season because of the coronavirus pandemic. With some stadiums having limited attendance, the NFL had 1.2 million fans attend games last season — down from 17 million in 2019. 

“All of us in the NFL want to see every one of our fans back,” Goodell said. “Football is simply not the same without fans and we expect to have full stadiums in the upcoming season.” 

Lightfoot announced last week that approximately 7,000 fans would be allowed to attend the Fire’s home opener on April 17 in the 100- and 200-level sections of Soldier Field. That is the first phase toward eventually allowing 25% of Soldier Field’s 61,500-seat capacity (15,375). 

Earlier this month, Lightfoot said the Cubs and Sox would be allowed to sell 20% of the tickets available for their home games this season. 

Goodell said 18 NFL stadiums have been used to administer more than 1.5 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine. “Proud of the work that our teams are doing across the country to help get all our citizens vaccinated,” Goodell said. 

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