About 8,000 fans were allowed inside to watch the Bucs for the first time in over a year.By Nicole Ford

PITTSBURGH, PA (KDKA) – The streets on the North Shore were full, at least when it comes to COVID standards.

“I work in the medical profession so I come home and there’s just some bad and you can’t do nothing. You are just tight wound,” said Christina Maye.

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Maye is one of the many Pirates fans who lined Federal Street on Thursday. She was continuing a tradition of attending each home opener.

“Ugh, just to be in the seats again. Left field loonies, that’s who we are, so sitting in those bleachers and enjoy that game,” Maye said.

While tickets are hard to come by — only 8,000 allowed inside — some fans didn’t care and came to the North Shore anyway to cheer on the team.

“It does beat work that’s for sure, so we just got to keep it going, keep the tradition alive. Let’s go Bucs,” said Pirates fan Jamie Svitek.

This is the first time since 2019 where fans have passed through the gates of PNC Park. While many are in high spirits, Tim Hopey is here for a reason.

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“My brother and I have been coming to 16 straight home openers. The park opened in 2000 we started coming in 2003. He passed away two years ago and I’m here today in his honor,” Hopey said.

Hopey told KDKA not being able to come for his brother in 2020 was heartbreaking, but nothing was stopping him from stepping foot inside the ballpark this year.

“This is my brother’s shirt, he’s right here with me,” Hopey said as he pointed at his jersey.

Without fans last year, there was limited foot traffic on the North Shore and businesses really felt that hit. Those workers are hoping things will change now that baseball is back.

“The North Shore is really based on sports and local businesses. Back in last March, when everything shut down and everyone started working from home, our business really took a huge hit. We tried to stay open, but we ended up closing for a while. It’s great to see sports back on the North Shore because it’s really helping all the restaurants and businesses keep it all going,” said Mara Ban Thiel, who works at SOHO Pittsburgh.

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Fans were already lined up outside the restaurant to get in before 10 a.m on game day.