Steelers owner: If you won’t pay for my Wi-Fi, maybe I won’t host the Super Bowl, nyah

Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II has announced that he’s suspended efforts to get awarded the 2023 Super Bowl, and is blaming it on the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority not giving him enough money for stadium upgrades:

“I don’t know that there’s a real commitment here from our landlord to do what’s necessary and work with us in a way that’s cooperative,” Mr. Rooney told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It’s hard for me to explain what the reason is. It’s been something that’s becoming more difficult as the years have gone on in our lease.”

Rooney’s gripe is that he wants to expand capacity by another 2,000 seats (after already adding 3,000 in an expansion set to be completed this year), build a new scoreboard and expanded museum and concessions space, and pay for new sound and Wi-Fi systems that have already been installed, all using money from a capital reserve fund being paid into by ticket surcharges. The sports authority is pushing back on that, and Mayor Bill Peduto was even more vocal on the subject yesterday:

“What they’re asking for is tens of millions of dollars in public money, out of a fund that doesn’t have nearly enough,” Peduto said. “They want to have a state-of-the-art wifi system for eight games a year. I want a state-of-the-art wifi in every one of my schools for 180 days a year. I want to have the ability to reinvest in neighborhoods, not just reinvest in a Jumbotron.”

That’s a little unfair, as the capital reserve fund won’t be available to pay for schools funding if it’s not used on stadium upgrades. If the capital reserve fund runs dry, though, and the city ends up having to pay for other maintenance costs out of its own pocket because it used all the money on a new Steelers scoreboard, Peduto has a bit of a point. (It would take a deep dive into the Steelers’ lease to determine how exactly the capital reserve fund can and can’t be used, and all I can find at the moment is this summary, which doesn’t go into that level of detail.)

Peduto has played hardball with sports team demands before — he was elected in 2013 after campaigning against public funding being used for the last round of Steelers upgrades, and managed to successfully get the team owners to pay for them with increased rent payments. And the Pirates owners have threatened to sue the stadium authority over a similar issue about tapping a capital reserve fund for improvements to their stadium.

Ultimately, this is a minor squabble that mostly points up the importance of having good lawyers write up your leases so everyone doesn’t end up in court a few years later to determine what the heck they mean. Peduto and the stadium authority, though, are doing their job, which is to protect money controlled by the public from being used on anything that it doesn’t have to be. It seems a little harsh to report on that with headlines about “The dream of holding a Super Bowl at Heinz Field has come to a halt,” but I suppose it could be worse.

12 comments on “Steelers owner: If you won’t pay for my Wi-Fi, maybe I won’t host the Super Bowl, nyah

  1. The Rooney family has a lot of power and respect in the NFL, but the Super Bowl outdoors in Pittsburgh? The NFL lucked out with the weather the year they played in East Rutherford.

    Indianapolis gained rave reviews for their hosting, and Minneapolis gets their 2nd shot this upcoming seaso, so I gather Rooney will use those smaller cities to say the party/social stuff could work. Foxboro seems a more likely 2nd cold weather stop.

  2. As important as a good lease is a strong leader, willing to push back. (Which was the number one reason for Trump’s victory.)

  3. Wow…impressed by Pitt mayor response… Even in Chicago where the Mayor came in with a nasty reputation he has spent most of his time as mayor on his knees and glaze on his lips whenever dealing with the Cubs demands.

  4. Pittsburgh doesn’t have the hotel rooms to host a Super Bowl. NFL requires 19k “high quality” rooms in “full service hotels”. Pittsburgh has 24k rooms total.

    Plus it can get might cold on a February night with the wind whipping off the river.

    • And they can’t do what they did in Jacksonville and had cruise ships out in the water acting as hotels.

  5. Like “LA Steve” mentioned the NFL got VERY VERY lucky with the super bowl they had in New JERSEY. The day before the game it was freezing and the day after the game when everyone’s seems to travel there was a blizzard. Just so happen the day of the game it was mild. I wonder what the NFL would have done if the blizzard was that Sunday? Since they got lucky they may be going to roll the dice again. I think if they didn’t get lucky they would never have the game outdoors in the north. Even if you have a domed stadium in the north it doesn’t attract the long stay visitor/fan like you do when it’s on Miami/Ft Lauderdale. Yes you have a chance of rain but it’s warm. People come many days in advance to make a vacation out of it. In colder temps they are reluctant to do that and that keeps the host city from that money they though that would be getting pumped into their economy. After the game it’s too late to say we we wrong. To all the tax payers don’t fall for the NFL’s snow job (no pun) it’s almost about the money they will make. If you could see the book of demands the NFL requires from the host city like police escort for all the owner, pretty much free everything to these billionaires that can afford their own. Plus the city doesn’t get one cent from the NFL for using the stadium. To them it’s an honor to host the Super Bowl and you will get money pumped into your economy (if the weather is nice).

    As for all these NEW stadiums having to be upgraded. It blows my mind that they are less than 15/10 year old and the owners keep demanding money from the cities. Can you play football, hockey, baseball, soccer or basketball there? Then that’s all that matters. No news to have these stupid amenities that do not attract the average fan.

    In New Jersey they torn down a stadium that was it except condition to build the most expensive stadium in the world (At that time). Yes in New Jersey we have double the amount of the games because of the giants and jet but you speak with any season ticket holder from any team and they all have said the same thing. The older stadium was better and there was no need to build a new one.

    I say to city officials that are trying to keep a team like San Diego, insted of paying over a billion dollars on a new stadium use the old stadium and renovate it and it will cost half the amount of money. Look what they did to the Dolphins stadium, they used the bones of the old stadium and made it a state-of-the-art stadium and it cost half the 1+ billion a new one would cost.

    In New Jersey they didn’t want to pay for a new stadium so the NFL did. Yes the state gave them the property and the state was responsible for infrastructure but the new toads benefited the state tax payers so it was kind of a win win situation. I doubt the NFL will ever pay for a complete stadium but if you stand up to them maybe they will.

    Politicians need to stand up to these multi rich organizations and their billionaire owners and demand them to pay.

  6. Rooney is a jagoff. Pay for something yourself. Im sure theres a way to do that even while leasing the stadium.

      • I dunno. I’ve always thought that the elements are *part* of football. Wind affects kicks and passing. Rain and snow affect the field and traction. Temperature affects the players. It’s part of the game.

        So, yeah, I have no problem with a Super Bowl played outside. And some of the most entertaining games have been played in the snow…

  7. They already got a free playground off the backs of tax payers. More here:

  8. Rooney should STFU Look how good of a job he did taking care of Mike Webster.