As they try to plan stadium upgrades, the Pittsburgh Steelers are expressing their frustration with the agency that owns Heinz Field.
The Steelers have proposed a series of improvements at Heinz Field that include the expansion of the Great Hall–which could be equipped with a team store, museum, and other amenities–along with a new south end scoreboard. In trying to complete this process, the Steelers are taking issue with the stadium’s owner, the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority (SEA).
In recent remarks, Steelers owner Art Rooney II claimed that SEA has not been cooperative in agreeing to terms on how funds should be used for improvements to Heinz Field. SEA, in a statement, refuted some of Rooney’s claims and said it is trying to be responsible in how it handles its revenue. More from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
What’s in dispute, Mr. Rooney said, “is not necessarily a funding issue,” adding that “we have plenty of money coming into the building in terms of the capital reserve fund” financed through $4 in ticket surcharges.
“It’s how we use the money. It’s what kind of commitment we have to planning for the future. Obviously the development that we do around the stadium, that requires a lot of advanced planning. For whatever reason, working with these people … to get anything done, it’s like pulling teeth,” he said.
Morgan Hanson, the authority’s solicitor, said in a statement he was “puzzled” by Mr. Rooney’s remarks.
“In the past six weeks, I personally have participated in at least three meetings with the Steelers organization in which the Steelers and SEA discussed the Steelers’ request for funding for Heinz Field. In all instances, the parties have worked together diligently and professionally in order that the stadium be maintained,” he said.
“Obviously, SEA is the steward of the public’s monies. Accordingly, SEA must ensure that the Steelers’ requests fall within the public’s responsibility under the lease before approving them, a principle that both SEA and the Steelers have recognized from the beginning of their relationship. SEA intends to continue this long-standing practice of protecting the taxpayer while ensuring that our stadiums remain viable.”
Rooney goes on to claim in the Post-Gazette’s story that one of the major concerns the Steelers have is the ability to attract future events, including a possible Super Bowl. While Heinz Field has had several notable events in recent years–including Saturday’s NHL Stadium Series game–the Steelers believe that maintaining the stadium is crucial to ensuring that it remains a viable destination.
SEA also owns PNC Park, home of MLB’s Pirates, and has had some issues with the team in planning future improvements to that facility. The Post-Gazette reports that, in regards to planning for both facilities, SEA, city, and county officials ” have asked the teams to support efforts to expand revenue streams to support capital projects at Heinz Field and PNC Park. They believe money from stadium and ballpark users, not from taxpayers, should support improvements.”
Image courtesy Pittsburgh Steelers.