By Tom Brennan
The Eagles are not only 7-point underdogs next Sunday against the Steelers.
They will also be at a decided noise disadvantage.
The Steelers plan to have about 5,500 tickets available for season ticket holders who did not opt out for this season.
The announcement came shortly after Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf adjusted the state’s gathering limits that will go into effect starting Friday. The new limits will allow Heinz Field to host up to 7,500 fans, a number that includes fans, media, players, coaches and team personnel. Fans must wear a mask while adhering to the state’s social distancing guidelines.
The Steelers, 3-0 this season and 2-0 at home, have yet to host fans this season. When asked about the possibility of having fans attend Sunday’s game, coach Mike Tomlin, during his weekly Tuesday press conference, that he and his team would embrace the opportunity to play in front of fans for the first time.
“I know that as a football team, we’ll be excited if we have an opportunity to perform in front of fans in our home venue,” Tomlin said. “They inspire us, and we look forward to entertaining them.”
Rooney, speaking on the team’s pregame radio show on Sept. 27, said that he was hoping to have fans back in Heinz Field prior to Pittsburgh’s upcoming game against Philadelphia.
“We feel good about our outdoor plan we submitted to the authorities,” Rooney said, via the Post-Gazette. “We’re seeing around the country other stadiums having fans and so far not having any major outbreaks of the virus because of that situation. We really think it’s time.”
Pittsburgh is set to join Dallas, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Houston, Miami, Tampa Bay, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Carolina, Indianapolis and New Orleans as NFL cities that have hosted fans in 2020. Here’s a statistical breakdown of how each city has handled their fan situations, via ESPN.
The Steelers are one of 11 NFL teams that have yet to lose a home game despite having limited or no fans in the stands. Conversely, 11 NFL teams are still in search of their first home win heading into Week 5.
Governor Wolf’s gathering limit adjustment may alter what the Eagles do as it relates to hosting fans. The Eagles, like the Steelers, did not host fans during their first two home games.
The Eagles’ first opportunity to host fans would be in Week 6, when the Eagles host the Ravens at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles are 0-1-1 at home this season.