- Previously covered the Kansas City Chiefs for the Kansas City Star and Oklahoma University for the Oklahoman.
PITTSBURGH — Other than friends and family, the Pittsburgh Steelers will not permit fans at Heinz Field for the playoff game against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night.
There had been hope within the organization that the state would grant approval for a limited crowd — similar to the 5,500 capacity permitted at home games in October and November. Ultimately, though, the organization will have to abide by the state order that allows a maximum capacity of 2,500 in the building, including coaches, players and support staff.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger expressed his disappointment about the limited capacity Wednesday.
“I hate it for the fans,” he said. “I think about what Heinz Field would be like Sunday night. 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.”
Sunday night will mark the first true home night game at Heinz Field after the other two scheduled night games were moved because of a COVID-19 outbreak within the Baltimore Ravens organization. The Steelers have hosted 13 playoff games at Heinz Field since 2001, with the last one in January 2018.
Roethlisberger also brought up the idea a lack of home field advantage because of various state restrictions about capacity.
“I wonder how much home field advantage is going to play into it,” Roethlisberger said. “Which is the other question I brought up to Coach [Mike] 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.”
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