The Steelers director of communications recently stated that Pittsburgh will only be selling half of their tickets this year. Here’ why that could be bad for the team.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are have been a phenomenal home team under Mike Tomlin. Since 2014, they have gone 34-14 on their home turf with a roaring crowd at their back. Unfortunately, that could be about to change in 2020.
While social distancing measures may be necessary to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus, it could also have an impact on their season this year. Burt Lauten, the Steelers director of communications, recently released a statement saying that the team will be holding back on selling half their tickets in 2020. Here’s what he had to say, according to ESPN’s Brooke Pryor:
"“We are holding back 50% of the individual game ticket sales inventory because we are preparing for possible social distancing scenarios this year at Heinz Field.”"
As of Friday, the NFL has not put a restriction on the number of tickets a team is allowed to sell. Earlier in the month, commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo to all organizations that would require teams to reimburse any ticket sales if fans are unable to attend due to continued social distancing. Here’s what he had to say, according to Barry Wilner of AP News:
"“All clubs will have in place a policy under which, if a game is cancelled, or is played under conditions that prohibit fans from attending, anyone purchasing a ticket directly from the club (i.e., season tickets, group sales and/or partial season plans) will have the option of either receiving a full refund or applying the amount paid toward a future ticket purchase directly from the club.”"
As of now, it looks like the NFL is allowing teams to proceed with ticket sales as they choose. If restrictions are limited to fill half the stadium or less than it looks like Lauten and the Steelers made the right move. However, if social distancing restrictions are lifted than Pittsburgh could be rushing around to fill their seats for home games.
We’ve seen the effect a home crowd can have on a team, and the evidence is in the record. Even betting lines confirm this by giving a three-point advantage to the home team. If the Steelers are forced to fill just 50 percent of their stadium, it could end up making a difference in their advantage at Heinz Field.
A rowdy crowd with a lot of noise makes it difficult for teams to come to Pittsburgh, but that could be about to change in 2020.
This truly is one of those ‘glass half-full or half-empty’ type situations, depending on how you look at it. While it’s possible that distancing measures could still be necessary by that point, we are obviously hoping that the Steelers have the benefit of playing with a packed house in 2020.