Sporting venues across Pennsylvania will have to adjust to new COVID-19 mitigation rules published by Governor Tom Wolf on Monday, as his office has tightened its regulations in response to growing cases and hospitalizations across the state.
All outdoor venues will now have a maximum capacity of 2,500 individuals and all indoor venues will now be able to host no more than 500 people.
There are additional regulations based on the sizes of the venues. Outdoor stadia that seat over 10,000 will be able to host 5% of capacity up to the maximum of 2,500. Outdoor venues seating 2,001 to 10,000 people will be able to permit 10% of their maximum capacity and those that hold 2,000 people or fewer can allow 15% of their capacity.
That means that Heinz Field will be able to host the full 2,500, Hersheypark Stadium will be able to hold 782 for this weekend’s state football championships (5% of capacity) and Highmark Stadium can allow 500, or 10% of its 5,000 capacity.
Under the previous iteration of Wolf’s plan, Heinz Field could host 7,500, Hersheypark 2,346 and Highmark 1,000.
Indoor venues will have even stiffer restrictions, with venues that hold over 10,000 people limited to 500 attendants, those between 2,001 and 10,000 seats restricted to 5% of capacity and those under 2,000 occupancy can host just 10% of that total.
PPG Paints Arena and Petersen Events Center will be able to host the 500-person maximum. Robert Morris’ UPMC Events center will only be allowed to have 400 people in attendance, or 10% of capacity. When Duquesne opens the UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse, it will do so with just 440 people in the building.
Wolf did not specifically say on Monday why sports venues were targeted for reduced capacities in his updated mandate, but said that the situation with the coronavirus in Pennsylvania has worsened in recent weeks, precipitating the changes.
“In December, projections show upwards of 22,000 new COVID cases per day in Pennsylvania. And we are projected to run out of ICU beds,” Wolf said. “We must take action to protect our health care system from being compromised.”
The college basketball season is set to open across Pennsylvania on Wednesday, with Pitt hosting a men’s and women’s doubleheader at the Pete. The Pitt women will host George Mason at noon and the men will host St. Francis at 7 p.m.
Duquesne is starting its season on Nov. 30 in a tournament in Louisville. Robert Morris has paused the start of its season due to positive COVID-19 tests. They’re now slated to start Dec. 5 at St. Francis.