Sports fans in both Pennsylvania will be able to see their teams in person for the first time this fall, largely due to a judge striking down Governor Tom Wolf’s harsh restrictions on crowd size due to the pandemic.
U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV issued a ruling in September that found Gov. Wolf’s restrictions on crowd gatherings unconstitutional. The administration, which had set maximum capacity at 25 people for indoor events and 250 for outdoor – regardless of venue size – had to scramble when he refused to stay the ruling due to their failure to show that “imminent and irreparable harm would occur” if gatherings exceeding those numbers would be allowed.
Following that ruling, the state revised its guidelines to a sliding scale based on venue size. The new guidelines allow for as many as 3,750 at a large indoor space, or 7,500 at an outdoor event.
“Pennsylvanians must continue to social distance and wear masks as we prepare to fight the virus through the fall and winter,” Gov. Wolf said in a release announcing the new restrictions. “Regardless of the size of an event or gathering, those things are still imperative to stopping the spread of COVID. We know everyone has sacrificed in many ways and today’s announcement reflects a gradual adjustment to our lives as we learn how we can do things safely until we have a cure, or an effective vaccine is widely available.”
The Pittsburgh Steelers will host the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday and allow approximately 5,500 fans after playing their first two home games in an empty Heinz Field, while the Philadelphia Union – who play their home games in Chester, outside of Philadelphia, will welcome 2,775 fans to their home game Sunday against the Montreal Impact.
“I know that as a football team, we’ll be excited if we have an opportunity to perform in front of fans in our home venue,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. “They inspire us, and we look forward to entertaining them.”
Local rules can still supersede the state guidelines and bring tighter restrictions. Philadelphia has stricter guidelines in place, and has not yet decided whether or not they will consider opening to larger crowds, including when the Eagles play their next home game on October 18.