The Pittsburgh Steelers have played two home games in the first three weeks of the season. We knew for quite a while in advance that they would not be permitted to admit fans to attend those games. The remaining six games have been up in the air.
The Steelers have plans submitted about how to manage attendance, but it has to be approved before they get the green light. Their plans include limiting capacity to about 20 percent, or roughly 12,000 fans, and blocking off seats in 2- to 8-person ‘pods’. They have also made the restroom facilities ‘touchless’ and have added additional handwashing stations.
One of the biggest reasons that the Steelers and all teams are hoping to admit fans is, quite simply, because it means more revenue. And more revenue would mean the potential for the salary cap going up from the $175 million floor that was agreed to, as Art Rooney II admitted.
“Sure, that’ll help”, he said on the DVE Morning Show on Wednesday when asked about the tie between fan attendance and the cap. “That’ll help. And really, our fans, there’s a pretty large number that have kept their accounts active for this season, that want to come for the games. Our fans are, a certain element of them, I think are ready to go”.
“I think we’ll see our fans as we travel around the country”, he added. “I think every other away game with the exception of Buffalo at this point, they’re going to be allowed to have fans. So it’s gonna be an interesting situation, and I think we’ll see a lot of our fans on the road as usual, but hopefully we can get them into Heinz Field here at some point soon”.
That includes the game against the Tennessee Titans, which has now been postponed until later in the season. And the Bills have also submitted a plan in the hopes of being permitted to allow fans to attend their games, which could be approved by the end of the year. There is a possibility that the Steelers have played their last game in front of an empty stadium.
Still, Rooney can’t deny that it’s been hard to rationalize, particularly in their own stadium in Pittsburgh. “The restaurants are back up to 50 percent capacity now, and of course the casino is down the street, and there’s a couple thousand people allowed there”.
“That’s where it’s getting hard for us to explain to our fans, that other businesses are being allowed to open up and increase their capacity, and we’re still at zero”, he said. “It’s a little hard to explain, a little hard to understand at this point”.
The Steelers play in one of the safest regions of the country based on where their stadium is, according to the NFLPA, compared to every other team in the league. Frankly, at this point, I would be surprised if their plan is not approved. Hopefully in time for their next game.