It’s too early to tell, but it’s very possible that some—or even all—NFL games will be played without fans this season, assuming games are played at all. And that would have a significant impact on each team’s revenue, including that of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
According to Forbes, an entire season without fans would cost the NFL “$5.5 billion of stadium revenue (the sum of tickets, concessions, sponsors, parking, and team stores), or 38% of its total revenue based on figures for the 2018 season).”
The Financial Impact Of Having No Fans At Heinz Field
What does this mean for the Steelers? Forbes reports that the Steelers earned $156 million from games played at Heinz Field in 2018—middle of the pack in terms of NFL stadium revenue.
The club that stands to lose the least, probably, is the Cincinnati Bengals ($99 million). Two teams earned less in stadium revenue than the Bengals in 2018—the Chargers and Raiders—but both of those clubs are planning to move into new stadiums this summer. (The Los Angeles Chargers will share SoFi Stadium with the Los Angeles Rams, while Allegiant Stadium will serve as the new home of the Las Vegas Raiders.)
As for the prospect of not being able to play at Heinz Field, Allegheny County (where Heinz Field is situated), is in the “yellow” phase of Pennsylvania’s re-opening plan, and large gatherings of more than 25 people are not permitted until the state provides the “green” light.
On a positive note, however, the Steelers—and many other NFL teams—are expected to reopen their facilities on May 19.
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Steelers Scheduled To Play Two Games At MetLife Stadium, At Buffalo
Even if Pittsburgh is able to play its home games in front of fans at Heinz Field, it’s easy to envision a scenario in which multiple road games are impacted.
This morning New York Gov. Mario Cuomo said he has “been encouraging major sports teams [in New York State] to plan on reopening without fans”—to play for a television audience only.
Cuomo went on to highlight his allegiance to the Buffalo Bills. “Yes, I do want to watch the Bills,” said Cuomo, “but that is not subverting my role as governor. I think this is in the best interest of all the people, and the best interest of the State of New York.”
The Steelers are scheduled to play the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium in Week Three of the preseason, and scheduled to visit MetLife Stadium again on September 14 for the team’s regular season opener against the Giants. (While MetLife Stadium is in the State of New Jersey, it’s part of the New York metropolitan area, and New York and New Jersey have demonstrated a coordinated response against COVID-19.) The Steelers are also planning to visit New Era Field in Buffalo on December 13 for a Sunday Night Football game against the Bills.