Steelers president Art Rooney II said the team is hoping to have a full Heinz Field this fall and emphasized fans getting vaccinated as a part of that goal during a question and answer session with fans on Thursday.
The Steelers had no attendance for their first two games of the season. About 5,000 per game attended against Philadelphia, Cleveland and Cincinnati in October and November before Heinz Field was once again closed to fans.
The team’s goal for 2021 is to not only once again have fans, but to have a full crowd at Heinz Field.
“I think we will. I am kind of optimistic about it,” Rooney said. “Obviously, it’s still early, it’s only March, so we’ll see how things go. But I am optimistic we will have fans. Frankly, I am optimistic that we will have a full stadium by this fall.
According to Rooney, an important part of that process will be fans getting vaccinated, but he stopped short of saying that will be requirement in order for full crowds to return. Heinz Field has been serving as a vaccine distribution center for UPMC this offseason.
“Hopefully, everybody is out there getting the vaccine and is going to be able to get in crowds and things like that again,” he said. “Hopefully, we are going to be back to pretty close to normal by the fall. Let’s all say our prayers and keep our fingers crossed. But yeah, I am optimistic about it at this point.”
Rooney also called not having fans at Heinz Field “the toughest part” of the team’s pandemic-influenced 2020 season.
“Just being in the stadium without fans, it was very strange, really weird,” he said. “I think it did affect the players. I just hope we don’t have to go through that again, that is for sure.”