Some Pa. state lawmakers say state should not control crowd size for school sports

Some Pa. state lawmakers say state should not control crowd size for school sports
High school sports

PITTSBURGH — It’s week two of high school football, and a lot of players will see no fans in the stands once again this Friday.

But there’s a bill that’s been sitting on the governor’s desk for several days now that could change that.

House Bill 2787 gives local school districts the power to decide how many spectators can safely attend indoor and outdoor games. The bill passed in the state House and Senate with overwhelming support.

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On Wednesday, lawmakers continued their fight with the governor. Several held a bipartisan news conference, pushing for the governor to sign the bill.

“We encourage Gov. Wolf to join the legislature in this bipartisan effort and sign this bill into law once and for all,” said Rep. Kerry Benninghoff.

The governor has five days left to sign or veto the bill. He told Channel 11 last week he plans to veto it. In a press conference Wednesday, he would only say we could expect more on the issue in the coming days.

“That’s what the Department of Education is looking at. We want to get this out in the next either Thursday or Friday so school districts have this. Again, school districts are making up their minds for all these things. What they live in is these broad restrictions,” Wolf said.

Lawmakers say it can’t be a one-size-fits-all approach. Right now, the governor’s outdoor gathering limit of 250 people makes it tough for fans to attend high school football games inside stadiums that can normally fit thousands.

Last Friday, we saw some schools with a handful of fans, while others had none at all.

“A bittersweet thing, you know. I wish our student body was here. We wish mothers and fathers were here,” said Scott Heinauer, the Mars Athletic Director.

Heinauer said it shouldn’t be a packed house, but believes limited fans can safely space apart while wearing masks inside stadiums and gymnasiums.

“It’s even harder to understand the 25 person limit for indoor gatherings being applied in gymnasiums that are in some cases larger than our big-box stores,” said Rep. Mike Reese.

Lawmakers said the bill passed the House and the Senate with enough supporting votes, that should the bill be vetoed, the legislature can override it if the revote totals are the same.

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