(Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
The Steelers announced today that only friends and family of the players and organization will be allowed at Heinz Field for Sunday night's wild-card game against the Cleveland Browns.
Steelers spokesperson Burt Lauten released a statement regarding the matter.
"We are disappointed we will not be able to host our season ticket holders and other fans at Heinz Field on Sunday night against the Cleveland Browns in our AFC Wild Card Game. We were hoping to receive approval to host fans for the playoffs at a capacity similar to our games in October and November, but unfortunately the state's orders will only permit 2,500 total people in the building, including players, coaches and staff. This will limit fans in the seating bowl to family and friends of players and the team."
On Dec. 30, Gov. Tom Wolf announced that the three-week restriction to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania that includes a ban on indoor and outdoor gatherings will expire as planned on Jan. 4.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave permission for the Buffalo Bills to allow 6,700 fans in attendance when they host their first home playoff game since 1996 this Saturday.
Fans will have to wear masks and test negative before the game. Cuomo also said there will be contact tracing after the game, and that the game will serve as a pilot program for how the state can smartly and safely reopen large events and other businesses.
“A football playoff game is outdoors, which is a much better situation from COVID spread,” Cuomo said via Pro Football Talk. “We believe we are the first state in the nation to run this kind of pilot. We think it can be very instructive to us going forward.”
Ben Roethlisberger said yesterday in a Zoom interview with the media that it's disappointing to not see fans in the stands.
"I hate it for the fans. I think about what Heinz Field would be like Sunday night," Roethlisberger said. "Anyone who has been there knows how special it would be. I hate it for them. I hate it for the Steelers for the energy and excitement that it brings. But once again, that is what we are doing. That is what we are living in.
"I wonder how much home-field advantage is going to play into it. Which is the other question I brought up to Coach Tomlin. In the competition committee have they talked about that? Some states are going to allow a lot more fans than others. Is that fair? Is it not fair? How does it make it equal? There are a lot of unanswered questions but that is the year we are living in."
The team informed season ticket holders who already had selected seats for the Steelers-Browns wild-card game through email that they won't be charged for tickets purchased.
The email also included that if the Steelers do advance in the postseason and another game is hosted at Heinz Field, ticket holders will be advised if there are any changes in the state guidelines that allow for an increased capacity for a potential home game.