Why are the 49ers playing in Arizona? COVID concerns forced move to State Farm Stadium
Go east, young men.
The 49ers were left searching for a new (temporary) home after Santa Clara County, home of Levi’s Stadium, outlawed contact sports amid the county and state fighting the coronavirus pandemic. But the team has found a new home for at least the next two weeks, heading to State Farm Stadium in Arizona, home of NFC West division rival Cardinals.
The official statement from the team:
The San Francisco 49ers have come to an agreement with the National Football League and Arizona Cardinals which allows the 49ers to host their Weeks 13 and 14 home games against the Buffalo Bills and Washington Football Team at State Farm Stadium in Arizona.
The Cardinals organization, State Farm Stadium and League officials have been supportive and accommodating as we work through the many logistical issues involved in relocating NFL games.
Information regarding the 49ers future practice arrangements will be shared at the appropriate time.
There didn’t seem to be any panic from the San Fran, though, which was left searching for a new stadium and practice facilities on a moment’s notice from county officials.
“It was a very disappointing thing what we got yesterday,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “For us to find that out while we’re getting on a plane … it was extremely disappointing.”
Shanahan said #49ers got no heads up. Team found out about the ban by way of social media and they got no answers from Santa Clara County on why the decision was made.
— Nick Wagoner (@nwagoner) November 30, 2020
While it’s less than ideal, it’s another hurdle jumped in the 2020 NFL season.
Why are the 49ers playing in Arizona?
Because of Santa Clara County’s latest coronavirus (COVID-19) policies outlawing the playing of contact sports, the 49ers were forced to find a new home for their two of their final three home games (Week 13 and 14) this season.
The coronavirus protocols also mandated a 14-day quarantine period for anyone traveling from more than 150 miles away, meaning the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Football Team — both, obviously, traveling from more than 150 miles away — will visit Arizona and not California over the next two weeks.
The 49ers also play one final home game this year, in Week 17, vs. the Seahawks. While there’s no word on where that game will take place, if COVID numbers in Santa Clara aren’t coralled over the next month, then there’s a decent chance that game also will be played in Arizona. The current ban on contact sports is only three weeks.
The Cardinals travel to Los Angeles in Week 17 to play the Rams, so State Farm Stadium will be vacant.
In addition to the actual games, the 49ers will have to find a new practice facility, with Santa Clara off the table as an option for now.
The movement from Santa Clara to Arizona is not without controversy, though, with coronavirus numbers in Maricopa County surging, as well.
Element of the absurd: Santa Clara county is averaging 26.8 cases per 100,000, Maricopa County in AZ is averaging nearly twice that, 48.6. https://t.co/YmfYl6nw9d
— Jason Schwartz (@JasonSchwartz) November 30, 2020
Santa Clara’s coronavirus policies have been among the most strict among NFL homes this season, with the county going as far as to mandate masks being worn among broadcast teams — including NBC’s Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth — during 49ers home games this season.