On Tuesday morning Pa. Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine announced new guidelines for indoor and outdoor gatherings in Pennsylvania. Under those guidelines (which go into effect on Friday), up to 7,500 people can attend events at Heinz Field.
In the wake of the governor’s announcement, the Steelers issued a statement from team president Art Rooney II that the team will welcome fans for this Sunday’s home game against the Philadelphia Eagles at 1 p.m. ET.
However, there will be significant limitations.
“Under the guidance provided by the Governor’s office, we are limited to 7,500 [people] total in the stadium, which includes players, coaches, stadium staff, etc.,” advised Rooney. “Based on these limitations we will only be able to make available to our fans approximately 5,500 seats in the lower seating bowl at Heinz Field.”
“Random Selection” Among Season Ticket Holders
According to Rooney’s statement, priority will be given to Steelers season ticket holders who did not opt out this season.
“Seat selection opportunities will be based on a computer-generated random selection of season ticket holder accounts,” he said.
That means a relatively small sampling of season ticket holders will be able to obtain tickets for the game against the Eagles. Earlier this week, the Steelers advised season ticket holders to monitor the email address on file with the club’s ticket office, noting that “the team may only be able to provide minimal advance notice” regarding the selection of seats.
Social Distancing, Tailgating?
Those in attendance will also be required to social distance and wear masks. Moreover, tailgating will not be permitted in the stadium parking lots.
The Steelers advise that additional details concerning game day operations will be available in the coming days.
The Eagles-Steelers game will be the first contest this season in which the team will play in front of a crowd of any size. The Steelers expected to see fans for the first time in 2020 at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, but the Steelers-Titans game that was originally scheduled for October 4 was postponed and rescheduled for October 25.
The team did not indicate how many fans might be able to attend future home games, including the game on October 18 against the Cleveland Browns.
“We look forward to hopefully having more fans soon while still maintaining a safe and healthy environment at Heinz Field,” concluded Rooney.
Mike Tomlin on Playing in Front of Steelers Fans
Regardless, it seems clear that the team’s players and coaches will be looking forward to playing in front of a crowd of any size.
During his press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin—not yet aware whether the team would be hosting fans—said: “I know that as a football team we will be excited if we have an opportunity to perform in front of fans in our home venue. They inspire us and we look forward to entertaining them.”
The Steelers are scheduled to play a total of four home games in November and December:
November 15 vs. Cincinnati
November 26 vs. Baltimore
December 6 vs. Washington
December 27 vs. Indianapolis
It’s not a certainty that the state of Pennsylvania will allow fans at venues like Heinz Field beyond this Sunday’s matchup.
In the above-referenced announcement, Dr. Levine noted that “we will closely monitor cases and outbreaks and if our case investigation and contact tracing efforts determine that events or gatherings are the source of an outbreak, we can and will dial back these new limits. Public health and safety are our first concern and will always remain as such.”
Prior to today’s announcement, outdoor gatherings in Pennsylvania were limited to 250 people.
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