If the Pittsburgh Steelers have things their way, they will not play another game this season without fans, with the possible exception of the game against the Buffalo Bills, where plans for whether or not fans will be permitted remain up in the air.
Team president Art Rooney II spoke on the DVE Morning Show yesterday with Randy Baumann and Mike Prisuta, discussing a number of issues. He said that he believes all of their remaining road games, sans Buffalo, have already been approved to have fans in attendance. He also reiterated that they hope to be able to admit fans for their next home game, a week from Sunday, against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“We’re still in contact with the public authorities and all our health advisors on how we can make sure that the plan is as strong as it possibly can be”, he said on the show. “It’s really just based on the basics that we’re all being told to follow in terms of social distancing and wearing a mask and washing your hands, all the basics. Of course, there’s a lot more to it than that, but it really relies on those, those basics”.
“We think it’s a good plan, and it’s based on a limited capacity, a little less than 20%, which is around 12,000 fans. So, a fairly small population in a 68,000 seat stadium, which we feel people can stay socially distanced in”, he added. “And really in Western Pennsylvania, I think, we have to give ourselves a little bit of credit that people here have followed the guidelines. We really haven’t had the kind of spikes that we’ve seen in other parts of the country so far. I thank God for that”.
There have been both state and local guidelines issued for regulations on attendance at events, and the Steelers still have to adhere to Allegheny County and Pittsburgh’s guidelines specifically. They have submitted a plan, which consists of creating 2- to 8-seat ‘pods’, with the other seats being covered the ensure that distance is kept.
He also talked about enhancements to the stadium’s facilities, including making the restrooms all touchless facilities, and the addition of more hand-washing stations, in an effort to help prevent a lot of contact between individuals and between individuals and their environment.
One can only hope that those areas who are in a position to begin allowing fans will have been observing how other teams have handled the admission of fans with success and use that as their guide to allow fans in their own areas.
While the salary cap in 2021 is not tied specifically to fan attendance at Heinz Field for the Steelers, every dollar that the league generates through in-stadium spending, whether at the ticket office or otherwise, will only serve to raise the cap floor next year, which is good for everybody, including the players. So the more butts in the seats, the better. As long as they keep their butts away from other people’s butts, which frankly is a good policy to follow in general.