SBD/September 13, 2013/Facilities

Steelers, Pittsburgh Authority Still Trying To Settle Dispute Over Heinz Field Seats

Steelers execs will discuss the matter with city officials over the next few weeks
The Steelers and the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority "will try a different game plan in a bid to resolve a dispute over who will pay how much to add 3,000 seats to Heinz Field," according to a front-page piece by Mark Belko of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Steelers Dir of Strategic Planning & Development Mark Hart said the two sides will "engage in discussions" over the next few weeks. Belko reports the club filed suit against the SEA last fall after a deal to fund the $30M expansion "through surcharges on tickets and game day parking around Heinz Field collapsed." The team in the lawsuit "maintains that the SEA is responsible for funding two-thirds of the cost under a section of the Heinz Field lease that involves designated expansions of no more than 10,000 seats." But the SEA, which owns Heinz Field, "has countered that the Steelers first must show that similar modifications have been made to at least half of all other NFL stadiums with at least 25 percent of the cost covered by federal, state or local governments to be considered a capital improvement that qualifies for funding under the lease." Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge Joseph James in a preliminary ruling in June said that the Steelers "failed to show that the proposed expansion met the requirements to qualify as a capital improvement." Hart, after a Thursday meeting with the judge, "would not say whether the team would back off its demand that the SEA fund two-thirds of the expansion" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/13). Hart said, "If we can reach something agreeable, we might have a shot at getting something done for 2014." In Pittsburgh, Adam Brandolph notes the flap is "part of a larger disagreement about upgrades at the 12-year-old stadium." The Steelers "want to add a scoreboard to the north end zone and be repaid for refurbishing the stadium's audio-visual control room." The total cost of the upgrades "has been estimated" at about $40M (PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW, 9/13).
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