The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t yet given up on the possibility of having fans attend games at Heinz Field this season. But they do know that even if fans are allowed in the stadium, it will be in a limited capacity, with a mask requirement as well.
With that in mind, a report in Politico indicates that the team has “signed on to a plan to make [its] home venue available as [a] voting ‘super center’ in the fall, as election authorities look for large spaces to use for safe in-person voting amid the coronavirus pandemic.”
Heinz Field: Election ‘Super Center’
To date, the Pittsburgh Steelers are the only NFL team to sign on to the non-partisan Election Super Centers Project, though the organizers—a joint effort of the voting rights group National Vote at Home Institute and the Silver Linings Group—expect more professional sports teams to sign on in the coming weeks. There is also an effort to incorporate college venues as well as large venues outside the world of sports.
In addition to the Steelers, there are four NBA teams that have agreed to participate in the Election Super Centers Project, those being the Indiana Pacers, Los Angeles Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks and Washington Wizards. One major league baseball team, the Boston Red Sox, has also signed on, as has the NHL’s Newark-based New Jersey Devils and the Washington Capitals, who share an arena with the NBA’s Wizards.
The idea behind election “Super Centers” is to have a place to handle a large number of voters from a single county or jurisdiction where anyone can vote, regardless of their usual polling place. Heinz Field has the capacity to handle hundreds of polling booths while allowing for appropriate social distancing.
“In addition, many [stadiums and] arenas are already compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act, which can be a challenge when local election authorities are hunting for precinct locations,” notes Politico.
Having Heinz Field available is also valuable in terms of emergency planning, because if another nearby polling location can’t open, voters can be directed to the stadium.
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Steelers Have No Scheduling Conflicts
It’s worth noting that the Steelers don’t have any home games that could conceivably interfere with election voting in November. The Steelers host the Cleveland Browns on Sunday October 18, but aren’t scheduled to play at Heinz Field again until Sunday November 15 when the team welcomes the Cincinnati Bengals.
In between the Steelers travel to play the Baltimore Ravens on October 25. Then there’s a bye week, followed by a game at the Dallas Cowboys on November 8.
Election Day is on Tuesday November 3rd.
Training Camp at Heinz Field
At the moment, the Steelers are utilizing Heinz Field for training camp, the first time since the 1960s that the organization has held camp anywhere but Latrobe, Pennsylvania. The Steelers plan to return to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe for training camp in 2021.