Pittsburgh Steelers Won’t Have Fans at First Wildcard Playoff Game, Team Says

by Suzanne Halliburton

The Pittsburgh Steelers can’t allow fans for its playoff game Sunday night against the Cleveland Browns.

Instead, there will be a national, primetime television audience watching, with only friends, family and stadium workers at Heinz Field. It’ll certainly give a big-time game an intimate feel.

Why no fans? The Steelers, in a statement posted on Twitter Thursday, said it was because of state restrictions with the Covid-19 pandemic.

“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.”

The state allowed more fans earlier in the fall, when the weather was warmer and the Covid numbers had yet to spike again. There were 5,500 spectators for each of the Pittsburgh Steelers two October home games.

Pennsylvania Gov Tom Wolf allowed Covid restrictions, which had been in place since before Christmas, to expire earlier this week. But the governor still said no fans going forward.

There Won’t be Any Pittsburgh Steelers Fans, But Will There Even Be A Game?

Meanwhile, the coronavirus is playing havoc with the Cleveland Browns, the opponent for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Starting safety Ronnie Harrison tested positive for Covid, according to the NFL Network, which quoted a team source. Linebacker Montrel Meander, who is on the practice squad, also tested positive.

Cleveland special teams coach Mike Priefer is serving as the Brown’s interim coach. He’s filling in for Kevin Stefanski, who tested positive for Covid earlier this week. At least two other players also are positive.

Cleveland closed its practice facility to deal with the Covid positives. There were questions about whether the playoff game will happen. But as of Thursday, the NFL says its a go. It’s the first playoff game for the Browns since the 2002 season.

Yahoo Sports reported that the game will be postponed only if the Browns suffer more Covid positives. If there aren’t enough players to suit up for the game, the playoff will be pushed back.