Steelers president Art Rooney II said that the team has not given up on having fans in the stands at Heinz Field this season.
Speaking on the team’s broadcast of practice Saturday night aired by WPCW-TV, Rooney said that the team is still exploring its options with regards to getting some of Steelers Nation into the building when the home portion of the team’s schedule begins on Sept. 20.
“We miss the fans,” Rooney said. “We haven’t given up completely on potentially having fans at some point during the season. We continue to work with the governor’s office on that. We’ll see. If things improve, perhaps we will have some fans at some point during the season.”
Rooney added that he does not expect there to be a blanket policy on fans from the NFL and that different teams may end up making different decisions. On the same day the Steelers practiced without fans at Heinz Field, the Kansas City Chiefs allowed 2,000 fans to witness their practice at Arrowhead Stadium and have plans to allow 5,000 fans to attend next week.
“The home field advantage will be very different around the league,” Rooney said. Some stadiums are going to have fans, some are not. It’s like everything else this year it’s going to be an unusual situation we just have to adapt to.”
The practice attempted to integrate some portions of the team’s game day experience into practice, something that head coach Mike Tomlin has felt necessary to do in the absence of preseason games this season.
The team wore its game uniforms, had pregame introductions, and piped in crowd noise to the stadium.
“I thought it was important for us to simulate a game-like environment, and by that, I mean, the procedural things leading up to the game,” Tomlin said. “We approached it in that way in terms of our pre-practice work, the time line that we followed, the routines, the stretch routines and all the things that we would do in a preseason game. It’s just another step that we’re taking to ready the group for the regular season. I don’t want it to be where we’re in New York, and that’s the first time, they’re finding their rhythms prior to kickoff.”