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Detroit Lions don’t seem intent on making a midseason coaching change, so what improvements, if any, can save the 2020 season? (Filmed Oct. 5, 2020)

Detroit Free Press

With no fans allowed at Ford Field for at least another month due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Detroit Lions laid off a portion of their business-side staff this week.

The exact number of job cuts is unknown, and the Lions declined to say what percent of their approximately 300-person non-football work force was impacted by the layoffs.

“Consistent with organizational policy, we will not be issuing comment on internal business matters,” the team said in a statement to the Free Press.

Ford Field, home to the Detroit Lions, is seen before drills at practice, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, in Detroit. (Photo: Carlos Osorio, AP)

The cuts came during the team’s bye week, and less than seven days after the organization confirmed that fans will not be allowed to attend games at Ford Field until at least Nov. 15.

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The Lions and many NFL teams have faced substantial revenue losses this season due to COVID-19 restrictions on crowd sizes while also spending significantly on new safety measures at their practices facilities and stadiums.

The Lions remodeled their Allen Park practice facility this summer to comply with NFL mandates on social distancing, and they expanded coaches booths, modified locker rooms and added plexiglass barriers and touchless faucets throughout Ford Field. 

More: How COVID-19 will change sports as we know them: ‘The virus is shaping the sports world’

While NFL teams share a large pool of national revenue generated mostly from massive media rights deals — every team received $296 million in national revenue this year — Lions president Rod Wood told Crain’s Detroit before the season that the team generates about $60 million annually through ticket sales.

So far, the Lions have played two home games without fans. They won’t have fans at their Nov. 1 game against the Indianapolis Colts. And in the unlikely event that fans return later in the season, it will be at a greatly reduced capacity.

Lions players huddles before a play against the Saints during the first half at Ford Field on Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020. (Photo: Junfu Han, Detroit Free Press)

Wood told the Free Press this summer that he had three goals for the organization: To keep everyone healthy; to play football; and to survive the season from a business standpoint “so that we’re on the other side of this hopefully in 2021, where it’s a more normal year.”

“The business, I think, is set up so that you can weather this maybe better than some of the other sports because of the structure of how we share revenue and how we share the revenue in the form of the salary cap with the players,” Wood said. “But I have no road map for how to deal with this, neither does anybody else, so everything we’re doing is you’re making decisions based upon what you know today.”

On the field, the Lions are off to a disappointing 1-3 start that’s put the futures of head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn in question.

They lost games to the Chicago Bears, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints despite holding double-digit leads in all three games, and enter the weekend tied for last place in the NFC North.

[ Lions bye week restrictions part of new normal in NFL: ‘Totally sucks’ ]

The Lions play five of their next seven games against teams with losing records, including next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-3).

Contact Dave Birkett at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here’s how you can gain access to our most exclusive Lions content.