March Gladness? Rule Change Allows More Fans in PA Stadiums

Written By Nathan Frederick on March 2, 2021 - Last Updated on April 30, 2021

Now we’re talking.

It’s not perfect and nowhere near normal, but for local fans who are starved for live sports, it’s another step in the right direction.

On Monday, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced revised COVID-19 restrictions that will increase capacity at both indoor and outdoor sporting events.

The revised restrictions will allow for 20 percent of maximum occupancy at outdoor stadiums and 15 percent of maximum occupancy at indoor arenas. (Provided social distance guidelines can be followed by attendees and employees).

All that’s left is for the city of Philadelphia to follow that ruling and ease its own restrictions. If that happens, some fans could be heading to games for the first time since March of last year.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Gov. Wolf wrote on his Twitter feed yesterday.

Opening Day seems headed for a much brighter beginning

Although the next wave of sporting events is unlikely to feature any hugs or high-fives, it’s undeniable that Wolf’s ruling counts as progress. A tweet from NBC’s John Clark estimates that the Sixers and Flyers could soon host 3,000 fans. Meanwhile, the Phillies‘ attendance could reach 8,000. As noted at NBC Philadelphia, the individual teams would determine the total attendance.

And across the state, the ruling could allow roughly 7,500 fans to attend the Pittsburgh Pirates home opener April 8.

“Just to hear the oohs and ahhs, the emotion from the crowd, is huge,” Pirates pitcher Mitch Keller told the Post Gazette. “It’s what we feed off of. (It) definitely creates a home-field advantage. No matter how many fans you have in the stands or where you’re at. Having people there definitely helps you play the game…It just brings a little extra level of intensity to everybody, too.”

Across town, the Pittsburgh Penguins wasted no time sharing their own desire to bring back fans. The team announced in a tweet that single-game tickets will go on sale Tuesday, with capacity limited in accordance with the guidelines.

Wells Fargo safety rating bolsters hopes for fans

Play Pennsylvania recently highlighted one factor that should help Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center re-open too.

The arena recently received the WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management. It’s a third-party verified rating of the venue’s health and safety protocols. And it was the first arena in the state of Pennsylvania to receive that distinction.

“We know how much this building means to the entire city and the memories it creates for so many people. On top of this rating, we’re going to continue to follow the guidance of public health officials at the city, state, and national levels so that we’re ready to welcome fans back…,” Valerie Camillo, President of Business Operations for the Philadelphia Flyers and Wells Fargo Center said. “The WELL Health-Safety Rating, along with our extensive health and safety efforts, puts us on the path to bringing our fans and part-time workers back as safely and as soon as possible.”

Let the games begin – at PA stadiums

This season, the biggest comeback story may not belong to a single team or a solitary player. It’s a comeback story involving all the fans who were locked out of arenas, stranded from their season tickets, and left out of their beloved seats.

Sellouts and capacity crowds are likely still a long way off. But after a year in isolation, none of that seems to matter now.

It’s not about how many fans are standing next to you in the crowd. It’s about the game that’s happening right in front of your eyes.

And we all might be able to see it soon.

Lead image credit: AP Photo/Chris Szagola

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Nathan Frederick

Nathan Frederick is an award-winning writer with more than 1,000 published bylines and two decades of journalism experience. His work has won awards from the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Journalists, the Keystone Press Association, and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He has also authored three books, one of which debuted as an Amazon No. 1 New Release.

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