But it’s clear now that there won’t be any fans in attendance when Pittsburgh plays its season opener against the New York Giants on Monday Sept. 14 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
According to Steve Politi of NJ.com, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy has advised both the New York Jets and New York Giants that there will not be an exception to the statewide limit of 500 people at outdoor gatherings.
“My Administration has been working in close coordination with professional sports and college teams to determine how to proceed safely with games at their stadiums amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Murphy said in a statement obtained by NJ.com. “While we look forward to the day we can return to games as normal and cheer from the stands, continued concerns for the health and safety of fans, team members, and staff dictate that our executive order limiting outdoor gatherings does apply to sporting events, including training camp.
Preseason Game vs. the New York Jets Affected, Too
The governor’s order would also affect Pittsburgh’s preseason game against the New York Jets, which is scheduled for Friday August 28 at MetLife Stadium.
To date no preseason games have been cancelled, though a report emerged two weeks ago that the NFL planned to eliminate the first and fourth weeks of the preseason, which would bring a long preseason streak to an end for the Steelers and the Carolina Panthers.
More recently, there have been reports that the NFL is considering just one preseason game—during week three of the preseason. As noted above, the Steelers are scheduled to play the Jets at MetLife Stadium, though it’s also conceivable that the Steelers could instead arrange to play a team within driving distance of Pittsburgh.
But it’s looking increasingly likely that the preseason will be cancelled entirely. A report emerged this afternoon that the NFL has agreed to cancel all of the scheduled preseason games. To date, though, there has been no official announcement.
Arrangements Subject to Change
In the meantime, both the New York Jets and New York Giants left the door open to hosting fans at MetLife Stadium at some point later this season, assuming there is a nationwide downturn in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks or months.
“We support Gov. Murphy’s decision in the interest of public health and safety and, until circumstances change, both the Jets and Giants will play our games without the benefit of fans in attendance,” said the teams in a joint statement. “Although we would prefer to have fans at MetLife Stadium for our games, we will continue to work with Gov. Murphy’s office and will provide updates if necessary.”
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