To the list of “state-of-the-art” accoutrements that sports teams can demand public money for as part of their leases — a list that previously included such items as giant scoreboards and holographic replay systems — we can now add a new item: chairs. The Pittsburgh Steelers are asking a judge to issue a summary judgment on their lawsuit to get the public stadium authority to pay for two-thirds of the costof a 10,000-seat stadium expansion, on the grounds that their leaser equires that taxpayers must supply any addition or modification that, in the words of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, has “been installed in at least half of all NFL stadiums with at least 25 percent of the cost covered by federal, state or local governments.”
The cost of the public’s share of the expansion is expected to be about $20 million, which is roughly $16 million more than the stadium authority has in its capital reserve fund. As Deadspin reports, the Steelers and the stadium authority were looking into paying for the expansion — which will cost $40 million total, including the addition of a new (presumably non-holographic) scoreboard — with ticket and parking surcharges, but that didn’t work out:
The Steelers and the SEA had an agreement in place to fund the expansion by passing the cost on to those who attend games. The plan called for raising an existing surcharge on ticket prices in addition to implementing a parking surcharge. When the deal fell through, the Steelers took the SEA to court. There was a hearing today in front of a county judge—who happens to be a Steelers season-ticket holder, natch—and a ruling is expected within a week.
According to Judith Grant Long’s book, Pittsburgh, Alleghany County, and the state of Pennsylvania already spent $338 million (adjusted to 2010 dollars) on building Heinz Field, so this would raise the total cost to more like $358 million. At least, until more than half of all NFL stadiums get retractable roofs, which may not be that far off.