As the Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up the 2012 NFL season with an impressive win over the Cleveland Browns, there is was one big downside to the entire day. The recorded attendance for the game was 51,831, which is the lowest ever for Heinz Field.
Heinz Field opened in 2001, and has a capacity of 65,050. And during the 12 seasons the Steelers have been having their home games there, they have sold out every single game. A remarkable feat when you consider every week teams have blackouts and struggle to sell tickets. But on this Sunday, even with all tickets sold, there were some 13,000 seats that remained empty for the game. Watching it on television I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. Every time they panned across the crowd it looked like what you would see at halftime, with so many seats unfilled.
But why did it happen? This was a game planed in winter weather, but hardly a storm that Steelers fans aren’t used to. And it was a game that most Steeler fans had to feel confident that even in a disappointing year the Steelers could win, so leaving disappointed couldn’t have been a major factor. I can only assume that the fans failure to come out and close out the season with their team had to do with the fact that the game carried no playoff implications. Steelers fans have become so accustomed to winning that a game that doesn’t have post season ramifications they just don’t feel a need to show up at a game they already have tickets for? This to me is troubling for a couple of reasons.
First, it sends a bad impression to the fans of other teams. Most accuse Steelers fans of being spoiled and entitled and this just adds to that. One of the things on my bucket list is to attend a Steelers game in Pittsburgh so to have people take that for granted rubs me the wrong way on a personal level. But more than that, this team has been great for decades. Decades! Win or lose they deserve the support of their fans, and seeing a crowd so small, then they fill stadiums for road games is beyond poor taste. Fans who chose not to attend simply because there wasn’t a playoff to follow for the Steelers should be ashamed of themselves, and should you ever want to do it again, just mail me your tickets and I’ll find a way to Pittsburgh and take your spot.