Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a relaxation of the state’s gathering restrictions as part of its overall COVID-19 pandemic mitigation strategy, a change that will have a significant impact on sporting venues in the commonwealth.
Wolf announced that outdoor venues will be able to host 20% of their capacity and indoor venues will be able to host 15% of their capacity, no matter the venue size. Wolf said the changes come in response to a statewide reduction in COVID-19 cases and the increasing number of Pennsylvanians that have been vaccinated.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Wolf said. “COVID-19 cases are on the decline, and more are being vaccinated. Thank you for wearing masks, keeping your distance, planning for vaccines and doing whatever it takes to slow the spread of COVID. Your actions are making a difference.”
The previous set of regulations, enacted in November, had a tier-based system depending on the size of the venue, but placed hard maximums of 500 persons indoors and 2,500 persons outdoors.
Under the new guidelines, Heinz Field will be able to host 13,680 persons and PNC Park 7,749, both up from the previous maximum of 2,500. Highmark Stadium will have its capacity doubled to 1,000.
Indoor venues will also see significant increases with PPG Paints Arena able to host 2,758 people, Petersen Events Center 1,876, UPMC Events Center 600 and UPMC Cooper Fieldhouse 525.
The rules will go into into effect immediately, but a Pitt athletics spokesperson said the team is not anticipating hosting additional fans for its final regular season men’s basketball game at the Pete on Tuesday. Both Robert Morris teams have finished their season and the both Duquesne teams and the Pitt women have finished their regular seasons.
Duquesne and Robert Morris football are playing spring seasons at Rooney Field and Joe Walton Stadium, and the ongoing WPIAL basketball playoffs will also be impacted by the change.