I know, the waiting-list for Steelers season tickets is this long (I’m holding my arms as far apart as I can right now).
Does the length do the waiting-list justice? After all, I’m 5’9,” and even if Shaq suddenly appeared next to me and demonstrated his massive wing-span, it might not be enough of a visual to illustrate just how many people would be willing to sell something extremely valuable of theirs—maybe even an organ—to get the chance to own Steelers season tickets— Personal Seat Licence’s and all.
I turned 48 on May 12 (same birthday as Steve Winwood, Kim Fields, George Carlin, the list of fellow celebrities is endless), which means I’ve never experienced a Steelers home game which was blacked out due to not selling out. That’s right, the Steelers have sold out every single home game since 1972. You know how all Browns fans have never witnessed their team play in a Super Bowl? That’s been my life, but with Steelers sellouts.
A blacked out home game is such a foreign concept to me, I forgot it was still a thing.
I guess this is why I’ve always been smug about the fact I live 10 minutes from Heinz Field. I suppose it’s why I’ve never been sensitive to those 1 PM starts (Pittsburgh has 10 this year) and how they hurt the chances of many from around the globe to actually see the Steelers play.
I get to see all the Steelers games in the comfort of my own home. I don’t have to travel. I don’t have to do any illegal streaming. I don’t have to stay up until the wee hours of the morning. I’m a Pittsburgher, and when the Steelers are on the television, I can watch them.
But could that all change in the not-so-distant future? Could the Steelers decades-long sellout streak come to an end before I’m old enough for my first AARP card?
I’m asking this question because the Steelers—like every other NFL team—are moving ahead with plans for a normal 2020 regular season. Yes, even though the regular season could be delayed or postponed because of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, for the NFL, it’s still business as usual. And that means the teams want their money for their season tickets by no later than June 1. If they don’t get their money, it could mean long-time season-ticket holders may lose their seats, along with their seat licenses.
If you’re the Steelers, you can conduct business this way because there’s a huge demand for your supply. But what happens if/when it’s no longer a luxury the organization can rely on?
I realize this seems ridiculous right now, but Heinz Field figures to be filled to no more than half capacity in 2020 due to social distancing mandates. Who gets to go to these games? Will there be a lottery to determine this? Will people take turns? What happens if the list shrinks due to a number of different factors— long-time season-ticket holders being hacked off because the Steelers wouldn’t let them take a season off, financial hardships, fear of catching COVID-19, the mere fact watching a game on a 40-inch flat-screen TV, being away from the crowds, away from the traffic nightmares, away from the outrageous concession and parking prices— suddenly seems preferable to actually making the effort to attend?
Could there be a time when the Steelers are forced to have massive giveaways in-order to get people to attend games at Heinz Field? Could we see a bobble-head day "First 40,000 fans who enter Heinz Field get this awesome Myron Cope bobble-head”? How about a free post-game concert featuring Pittsburgh’s own Wiz Khalifa?
Will there ever be a time when I have to travel outside of the Pittsburgh viewing market (and have that smug look wiped right off my face) just to view a Steelers game on television?
How about cheerleaders? Could we ever see a time when the Rooney family gives in and finally has cheerleaders on the sidelines at Heinz Field? And not just cheerleaders, scantily clad cheerleaders? And not just scantily clad cheerleaders, scantily clad cheerleaders who fire free t-shirts into the stands?
Oh, the humanity!
Again, it seems silly, right now. But the thought of social distancing seemed silly as recently as two months ago— now it might be a thing that stays with us forever and ever.
The Steelers have had the upper-hand in the supply and demand department for going on five decades. However, there soon may be a time when the fans have the leverage.
Attendance has been dwindling for quite some time, not only at Heinz Field, but at stadiums all across the NFL. What happens if something comes along to hasten the decline?
Picture this: Jerome Bettis starring in a commercial about how you should come on down to Heinz Field and see the Steelers.
First 40,000 fans in attendance get a commemorative Jerome Bettis school bus.