Welcome to Football Island

Phil Plantier

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Mar 7, 2002
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Edit: credit to the original idea by The Grey Eagle

Now that the Marlins are in trouble, I do think the NFL is working on (or already has ready-to-go) a Football Island solution. So let's carelessly speculate!

A football bubble would need to hold approximately

2,500 players
1,500 team staff
800 officials/game day staff
100 media
100 support staff

so 5,000 people if no one can bring guests. Around 9,000 if players/staff/officials can bring 1 guest. 10,000 hotel rooms seems feasible for most medium-sized cities.

I don't think college campuses would work (too much flak from students/parents).

You would need at least 4 high-quality football stadia with plenty of sideline space for cameras etc. This temporary stadium was built in 111 days, so I don't think stadia can be constructed from scratch (although practice fields might be).

Canton OH has the stadia but not the hotel rooms (only 1k)
Other ideas?
 

Mugsy's Jock

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Bi-Coastal, for the time being
Los Angeles/Southern California, no? Plenty of NFL-grade stadia (especially if Carson is NFL grade) and practice fields, plenty of hotel rooms. Just need to really buy out the hotels and tightly supervise transportation to/from practice facilities.

So, yeah, that'll work. [Please note intended sarcasm, if that slipped by you]
 

Phil Plantier

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Los Angeles/Southern California, no? Plenty of NFL-grade stadia (especially if Carson is NFL grade) and practice fields, plenty of hotel rooms. Just need to really buy out the hotels and tightly supervise transportation to/from practice facilities.

So, yeah, that'll work.
I'm excluding current hotspots, although the NBA/MLS/NWSL are showing that's not necessarily a constraint. Certainly there are many places in TX (all those high school stadia!) that would work.

Hawaii only has 2 stadia, on 2 different islands.

Edit: Mooch has the best idea I've seen so far, although that's a lot of outdoor practice/games in Jan-Feb
 

DJnVa

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They could also adjust schedule, play only games within your conference and do 2 smaller bubbles if they can't find suitable location.
 

OurF'ingCity

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I do think the NFL is working on (or already has ready-to-go) a Football Island solution.
I know this goes against the spirit of this thread but just knowing the owners, I disagree with this. There are still some teams (including the Pats) holding out hope that they might be able to play in front of fans - those teams are obviously not going to want to give up that revenue until they absolutely have to, and, as with MLB, I worry that by the time that becomes a realty (i.e., government explicitly telling NFL teams they can't play in front of fans) it will be too late.

That said, if they do surprise me and start working on a "bubble" option, I don't see how they could find somewhere that could host ~13ish NFL games on any given Sunday. Which would mean they would probably (a) need to rejigger the schedule so that teams are playing, say, Thursday through Tuesday or something and (b) rather than a single bubble location they would probably need to locate a given area where teams could be bused from stadium to stadium in a reasonable about of time (of course, the bus drivers would then also need to be part of the "bubble"). For example, maybe they could get away with limiting games to roughly the Northeast region and play games in Foxborough, Jersey, Philly, Baltimore, and DC with teams busing between those locations?

Needless to say even the above would be extremely complicated and could potentially require major tweaks to the schedule so it's an open question whether the NFL has already squandered too much time to make it work - at minimum if they want to go this route they need to start planning IMMEDIATELY.
 
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Phil Plantier

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There's no way to bubble the NFL. Too many people, too many facilities they need total control of, too many moving parts.
I think you are underestimating the lengths an organization will go to for 8 billion dollars. Replacement refs? Drone cameras? Remote coaching?

I don't know if they will bubble, but I'm certain they are talking about it today.
 

RedOctober3829

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I think you are underestimating the lengths an organization will go to for 8 billion dollars. Replacement refs? Drone cameras? Remote coaching?

I don't know if they will bubble, but I'm certain they are talking about it today.
I am not underestimating it. I know the undertaking it would necessitate to bubble a whole team. Now times that by the whole league which the personnel it takes to play the game and the support areas dwarfs anything that NBA and NHL has. It is a gigantic undertaking to bubble the entire NFL. What area can you do it in? If Power 5 schools are playing football, there aren't enough practice facilities in a given area when you combine the hotels they'd need which really only exist in urban areas. You can't just have 1 or 2 facilities to put on practices you would need 3 or 4.

The only way this might have a chance is somewhere like LA/Dallas/Atlanta and that is only if college football is not playing. You'd have the Rams/Chargers facilities plus USC and UCLA. In Dallas, you'd have The Star plus TCU/SMU. In Atlanta you'd have the Falcons facility plus UGA/Georgia Tech/Georgia State/Kennesaw State There would be sufficient hotel space as well in all of these cities. Even if there is no college football, it's dicey because athletes will still be on campus working out and using the facilities.
 

Jungleland

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The biggest issue with bubbling is the length of time, no? Easier to bubble the NBA when we're basically jumping right into playoffs. Bubbling an entire NFL for 5+ months seems like a nonstarter to me. Same with baseball - while the Marlins situation clearly highlights how unlikely this all is to work, I can't imagine those negotiations if 4 months of bubbling was part of the deal.
 

MuzzyField

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The Commish just sent me an email and all systems are GO!

This week training camps across the country are starting and before we know it, the NFL season will be here. This is always the most optimistic time of year for our fans, and for all 32 teams. In a year that has been extraordinarily difficult for our country and the world, we hope the energy of this moment will provide some much-needed optimism.

In the months since the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down, we have navigated the time carefully, thoughtfully and in partnership with the NFL Players Association with a shared goal of playing a healthy and complete 2020 season. This process has not been easy – COVID-19 will continue to present a major challenge to nearly every area of American life. Football is no exception.

Every step of the way, our focus has been on the safety of players, coaches, personnel, fans and our communities. Our planning has followed the lead of medical experts and public health officials, including the CDC, the White House Task Force, governors and state health officials. As we have developed our 2020 playbook for the return of football, safety continues to be our first priority; that commitment will remain paramount as players return to the field.

The NFL in 2020 will not look like other years. Players and coaches will be tested for the virus regularly, including every day for a while. Preseason games have been canceled. Everyone in the team environment must follow rigorous health and safety protocols to keep themselves and each other safe. When there is a positive test, strict regulations will be enforced to isolate and care for that individual and to contain the virus before it spreads. Even the sideline will look different. And, state and local health guidelines will help determine whether fans will attend the games. These adjustments are necessary to reduce the risk for everyone involved.

Thanks to the collaboration of the players and a lot of hard work from our clubs, especially their medical and training staffs, our plans are in place for the 2020 season. Have a look inside the Rams training facility for some of these plans in action.

Adaptability and flexibility will be needed for the foreseeable future. After all, even the best game plan changes as new challenges arise. This year’s NFL Draft is a good example that embracing change can still deliver the fun and excitement we all crave.

While this year will forever be defined by a heartbreaking global pandemic and a transformative social justice movement, I am reminded of the tenacious, resilient spirit of our country, the NFL community, and you, the greatest fans in the world. Thank you for your continued support.

Now let’s play football,

Roger Goodell
 

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OurF'ingCity

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Putting aside the numerous statements that amount to little more than whistling past the graveyard, it's obviously factually untrue that "safety continues to be our first priority" because if that were true the season would be cancelled. It's more like "safety is one of the factors we are taking into account while still trying to make as much money this season as possible."
 

InstaFace

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I immediately thought of the National Sports Center up in Blaine, MN in terms of sheer size -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Sports_Center
It's an incredible facility. Been the site of the 2nd-most-prestigious ultimate frisbee tournament (the US Open, the one that gets live ESPN coverage of semis/finals) for each of the last 6 years or so, so I have a bunch of friends who've been. I remember looking at the google maps view and having my mind boggled by the sheer number of fields.

Pro:
- Feature field on-site seats ~8k or so, and I suppose you can have feature matches downtown at US Bank Stadium (Vikings) and/or TCF Bank Stadium (U-Minn Golden Gophers) if staggered appropriately.
- Immaculate grass fields, with a few field turf for weather proofing
- Sufficient volume of fields that every team can have 2, maybe 3.
- Anything of this entire genre, isolating and trying to focus 100% on football, plays to the advantages of a Belichick-coached team

Con:
- All the teams being in such close proximity probably isn't ideal from a social-distancing perspective (containing any spread), though I realize that's part of the idea of a bubble
- With only a few turf fields, and not many indoor ones even in the greater MSP region, rain will either prevent practices or result in the field being totally torn up
- Most of the fields are lined and sized for soccer. The lines are solvable, but not if the dimensions are weird, or if you really need field goals for practices.
- Even with a few feature fields that you essentially rent out for the entire weekend (every weekend all fall), you may not be able to get all of them in, certainly not 13 on Sundays. You might end up with a staggered model that plays games most days of the week just to alleviate that, but wouldn't be entirely fair to all teams since many would have unequal days' rest.
- I still don't know how you keep players mostly-separated such that one infection doesn't take out a whole team


I think at best, you need two sites, and divide AFC / NFC or something. For one such option, I present to you the Lebanon Sports Complex, 15 miles northeast of Cincinnati. It is huge, well-maintained, you've got several feature fields at which to do games in the area including one NFL stadium, and it's nowhere that you're likely to find very many other people poking in. There are 3200 hotel rooms in Cincinnati, but I bet if you include Columbus or Dayton to the north you'd get there.

You could also look at Fort Devens, just a bit down Route 2 from Boston. They have a huge space, and you've got both Boston and Worcester for hoteling and commutes.
 
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The Mort Report

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There was an article up on EPSN with Jason McCourty today, cant seem to find it, that the headline was basically he's unsure if the season will happen. When I clicked through I thought it was going to be about the virus being out of control and he wasn't sure if the league could do it safely. It was his worry about seeing players on social media working out in different cities, in clubs and at gatherings of 100's of people, that players aren't going to be safe. I do not trust either the NFL or the players to be safe if they try a bubble. There are way too many people to watch, way too many 22 year olds that wont be able to isolate for months on end, who vets cant be expected to hold accountable. It doesn't matter how good the player is, if they get time on the field they are just as dangerous as if TB broke protocol. And do you trust the NFL to put in solid guidelines? Or report someone breaking protocol?

With the NBA you have far few players to control, and this is purely based on what I think and see, NBA players seem more aware and more likely to hold each other accountable. Also I trust the NBA leadership to put in place a system and keep their players accountable over the NFL. Do you think the NFL would punish a player that broke protocol to pickup a food delivery? We would never hear about it, but the NBA rightly did. With the news about the outbreak on the Marlins proving "diligence" and "accountability" wont work, I'm just having a really hard time in seeing a scenario where the NFL works. Unless of course they just say fuck it, don't test and hope no one dies, because we all know most, if not all owners have thought about that as viable
 

Harry Hooper

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Have to make the rosters much, much smaller. Go back to the old days of 2-way players, with a handful of reserves and specialists.
 

Phil Plantier

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Missed this last week: the CFL, if they play, will do it in a hub city


The CFL is now hoping to play a shortened season with games starting in September, in a single city with players and coaches in a protected “bubble” consisting of hotels, practice fields and a stadium which will host every game.
 

tims4wins

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Jul 15, 2005
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Could the NFL do (or have done, since they aren't changing course now) something like:

4 bubbles: combine the AFC and NFC for the East, West, North, and Central
Play either 14 games (play everyone twice) or 17 games (play division teams 3 times, play opposite conference teams twice)
Top 2 teams from each division makes playoffs - so 16 playoff games, no byes
Find cities with 2 usable stadiums and play 2 games each on Saturdays and Sundays - maybe kickoffs at 2pm and 7pm so it would work for both coasts and give adequate time to clear the facility in between games
Cuts the number in each bubble to a more manageable ~1,000-1,200 people

It would still be logistically very difficult, and it wouldn't really be a "normal" season, but it seems at least possible to pull off? The biggest issue with bubbling in the NFL is the 5-6 months it would require each player to sign off on. I doubt many people - including players, coaches, staff, etc. - would agree to it if they had to be away from families that long.
 

Awesome Fossum

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If they were going to do something like a Christmas break -- bubble, break, re-bubble -- how long would the break have to be? Five weeks? Two weeks off, two weeks of quarantine, a week of practice, game?