PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The countdown to the home opener for the Pittsburgh Steelers is on and it will be a home opener like never before.
Due to the coronavirus, there will be no fans allowed inside Heinz Field.
So no twirling Terrible Towels, no deafening roar as the team comes out of the tunnel, only piped in crowd noise and empty seats.
But what about outside in the spacious parking lots surrounding Heinz Field?
Alco Parking President Merrill Stabile says they are following the lead of the Steelers and the NFL so tailgating?
“We have no plans to be open to the public for that purpose, quite frankly, I’d love to see the people that want to tailgate, go to a neighborhood restaurant and patronize them,” Stabile said.
Stabile fully understands that people see the wide-open spaces of the parking lots and see plenty of room to social distance, enjoy time with friends, and watch the game on portable TVs.
“Well, I think, you know, you and I imagine it one way, but it could go completely the other way which is our concern,” he said. “You know tailgating doesn’t exactly lend itself to social distancing. And I think anybody that’s been to a tailgate party would understand that it’s our opinion that we don’t want to do anything that is going to concern people, and we want to be responsible in our own way. And we’re going to continue to review this because I think this is going to be a very fluid situation.”
The last thing Alco, the Steelers, and the NFL wants is to wind up hosting a super spreader event where a few days down the road suddenly there is a cluster of cases tracing back to tailgating on the North Shore.
But some of the restaurants Stabile is encouraging you to patronize are right there on the North Shore and they will need parking.
“We will be available, you know any parking lots that the North Shore restaurants normally would have used, which would probably be lot two, I believe those will be open but it won’t be tailgating,” he said. “It’s not something we’re going to encourage or even allow tailgating we want them to park there and then patronize the restaurants.”
Make no mistake, with Alco’s revenues down 50-70 percent Stabile says, “Believe me, we would love to sell more parking than we have. But I just didn’t feel this was the appropriate way to do it by inviting tailgating. We look forward to welcoming tailgaters back when things are back to normal. But at this point, we don’t think it’s really appropriate.”
The Steelers have already announced there will be no fans in Heinz Field for the first two home games but Stabile says after that if there is a change of heart by the team tailgating might return before the end of the season.
He certainly hopes so.