No roof on MetLife Stadium did not stop the Super Bowl from coming to New Jersey in 2014.
And now no roof on MetLife Stadium could be the reason fans can watch Giants and Jets games in person at some point in 2020 as New Jersey begins to reopen amidst flattening of the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Phil Murphy did not rule out the possibility of fans returning to the stands Wednesday on WFAN’s “Moose and Maggie” midday radio program. He has been in contact with ownership of both franchises and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
“I think it’s too early to tell,” Murphy said. “I think it’s a great aspiration. And outdoors is better than indoors with this virus. There’s no question about that. A ball game outside? Potentially.”
Murphy decreed Tuesday the Giants can open their East Rutherford headquarters and the Jets can open their Florham Park headquarters. Professional sports are free to begin training in New Jersey – the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and MLS’ New York Red Bulls both practice across the border – in accordance with proper health protocols.
The NFL is prohibiting coaches and non-injured players from returning to its facilities around the country in order to preserve competitive balance. A capped number of other team employees can return now where allowed by the government.
NFL training camps begin in the final week of July, the Giants-Jets preseason-opening game is Aug. 13 and the regular-season opens Sept. 10. Does Murphy realistically see training camps starting on time?
“Yes I can, actually,” he said. “This assumes the metrics [of COVID-19 cases] are continuing to go … in the right direction. God willing, we don’t have to pull the emergency brake.”
As for Rutgers and the link between students returning to campus and a football season in the fall, Murphy said plans are “not there yet and that’s not any comment on Rutgers.” The Big Ten has a ban on all athletic activities through Monday.
Murphy exchanged texts with Rutgers football coach Greg Schiano earlier Wednesday.
“I don’t have guidance for you yet on Rutgers,” Murphy said, “other than they are a program on the move and they are going to be a football power in a very short amount of time. I can say that with confidence.”