As NJ.com reported, the NFL has been monitoring the spread of wildfires along the West Coast to determine what impact it could have on the contest scheduled to be played on Sunday night at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
As the report noted, the fires already forced Major League Baseball to shift a three-game series between the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres south to San Diego due to the effect of the wildfires. Another series scheduled for Seattle had to move to San Francisco earlier in the week, the report noted.
“Players were complaining about the smoke on Monday in Seattle during a doubleheader between the Mariners and Oakland A’s, even with the roof closed at T-Mobile Park,” the report said, adding that smoke from the fires has traveled considerable distances, even affecting air quality and weather on the East Coast and beyond. Satellite images showed that some smoke had traveled close to 5,000 miles to England and parts of northern Europe.
It was not clear yet what options the NFL might consider if the blazes force the game between the Seahawks and Patriots to relocate, though there is some precedent for the move. The league has been forced to find new venues due to weather emergencies, including a 2014 matchup between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets that had to be moved to Detroit and played on Monday night after a snowstorm buried the stadium outside Buffalo.
Any move this year would come amid what is already a drastically altered season, with teams not allowing fans in the stands or only allowing a limited number due to the COVID-19 crisis.
There have been reports throughout the last few days regarding the league’s efforts to monitor the situation. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported last week that the NFL would intervene if there was greater than a 200 score on the Air Quality Index. He noted that this index stood at 219 in Seattle last week, meaning a game could not have been played there. The Seahawks were on the road to open the season, playing against the Atlanta Falcons.
This week’s game appears to be still be vulnerable as widespread blazes and smoke continue to spread across a number of locations on the West Coast. As Fox News reported, there are some positive signs for the Seattle and Tacoma areas as the air quality was improved from “unhealthy” to “unhealthy for sensitive groups.”