CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The story of the 2020 Carolina Panthers season was going to be all about change.
No Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly or Greg Olsen. No Ron Rivera. No Jerry Richardson statue in front of Bank of America Stadium.
No fans, however, is now the headline because of its impact on the bottom line. Sunday’s home opener will be played in front of 75,000 empty seats after local and state health officials declined to allow spectators because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Industry analysts said the NFL, the nation’s most popular and lucrative sports league, faces significant financial challenges this year due to Covid. Forbes estimated the 32 teams would lose 33% to 50% of revenue if the pandemic keeps fans from attending games. That estimate calculated the loss of ticket and concession sales, sponsorships, souvenirs and parking if every team went without any attendees for the entire season.
Carolina would lose an estimated $143 million, or 34% of revenue totaling $424 million, based on 2018 data, the most recent figures available, Forbes said. Losses are unlikely to be quite that severe — the Panthers hope to have reduced-capacity crowds as soon as Oct. 4 — but there are ample financial challenges.
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