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Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer doesn’t expect full stadiums in fall

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A full stadium for the Lions’ season opener seems unlikely.

NFL: OCT 11 Cardinals at Lions Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Detroit Lions are scheduled to open up the 2020 NFL season at Ford Field on September 13 against the Chicago Bears, but if projections continue on their current trajectory, don’t expect the stadium to be filled to the brim, as usual.

On Tuesday, Michigan governor joined Channel 95.5 radio show “Mojo in the Morning” to discuss the current state of COVID-19 and the government’s plans regarding opening up the state again. While the state is slowly loosening the quarantine and allowing some businesses to go back to work, Whitmer is still being cautious when it comes to large crowds, and she doesn’t believe we’ll see full stadiums by the time the NFL season starts.

“We’re making progress,” Whitmer said. “There’s reason to feel some confidence here, but we also have to measure (our) expectations and say, ‘Life is going to be different. We’re not going to be filling stadiums in the fall.’”

Whitmer wasn’t given the chance to go into further detail, as she was cut off by the radio host, but the message there is pretty clear. Based on current expectations, if Lions football is played on time in September, it won’t be in front of the typical 65,000 fans that fill Ford Field.

Meanwhile, the NFL continues to go along business as usual. Obviously, team facilities aren’t open yet, which means minicamp and OTAs are most likely going to stay virtual for the time being. However, last week, the league sent a memo to teams detailing protocols for reopening when possible, asking teams to have this protocol in place by the end of this week.

Whitmer isn’t the only state governor to be skeptical about a return to full stadiums in the fall, though. Last week, California governor Gavin Newsom had some sobering words about the idea of sports being normal anytime soon.

“It’s difficult to imagine a stadium that’s filled until we have immunity, until we have a vaccine,” Newsom said. “It’s difficult for me and imagine what the leagues do when or two of their key personnel or players are tested positive. Do they quarantine the rest of the team if an offensive lineman is practicing with a defensive lineman, and they are tested positive? What happens to the rest of the line? What happens for the game coming up next weekend? It’s inconceivable to me that that’s not a likely scenario.”

Whitmer finished the radio interview trying to spread some home among Michiganders.

“Listen closely when I speak, because I’m telling you there’s hope in all of this. We have absolutely pushed our curve down. We have saved lives. People are looking to Michigan because we’ve done it pretty well. We’ve got to keep doing it really well, and then we will really be able to feel good about what we’ve done, and we will re-engage and people can get back to work.”