View Full Version : County: Steelers may have to repay stadium help

07-16-2008, 04:02 PM

By JOE MANDAK Associated Press Writer

PITTSBURGH—If family members who own the Pittsburgh Steelers sell all or part of the team to outside interests, the county controller wants the team to repay some of the $281 million taxpayers ponied up to build Heinz Field.

Allegheny County Controller Mark Flaherty explained his threat to the team's owners at a news conference Wednesday.

"When the stadium was originally built, the public entered into a partnership with the Steelers," Flaherty said. "I feel it would be unjust for any shareholder to sell their shares and not have any implication to the public taxpayer."

Flaherty called the news conference to explain a two-page letter he sent Tuesday to the team's owners, Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney and his four brothers, who own 80 percent of the team, and their cousins, the McGinley family, who own the other 20 percent.

Flaherty noted in the letter that Forbes magazine said the franchise was worth about $300 million in 1998, but was worth $928 million by last year.

The stadium, which opened in 2001, and related lease provisions "contributed significantly to increases in the value of the Steelers franchise," Flaherty's letter said. "The public should share in the increased value that the stadium has contributed to the franchise."
Dan Rooney is haggling with his four brothers over ownership of the team. Each brother owns 16 percent of the franchise. The other four brothers, all in their late 60s or early 70s, want to sell to safeguard the investment for their heirs and because some of them own gambling interests that run counter to NFL rules for owners. They are said to be discussing a sale to billionaire investment banker Stanley Druckenmiller, a Pittsburgh native.

Flaherty said the stadium lease, which ties the team to the city until the year 2029, anticipated that the Rooneys or McGinleys might one day sell their interests. It allows them to transfer ownership within their families, but requires them to notify parties to the lease agreement—notably the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority—of a sale to outside interests, Flaherty said.

Flaherty said his letter was meant to get public officials who represent the taxpayers a "seat at the table" if such a sale is contemplated.

Steelers spokesman Burt Lauten said the team, including Dan Rooney and his son, Steelers president Art Rooney II, had no comment on Flaherty's letter or his comments at the news conference.

The Steelers contributed about $76.5 million to the stadium and state and county taxpayers $281 million, Flaherty said. Flaherty said he wants a proportional amount returned to taxpayers; if half the team were sold to an outsider, Flaherty said he would seek half the $281 million from the team.

Art Rooney Jr., the most outspoken of the Rooney brothers looking to sell, did not return calls for comment Wednesday. He has said the brothers remain committed to keeping the team in Pittsburgh, and Druckenmiller has said he does, too.

Druckenmiller, who has said he is interested in buying a piece of the team, did not return calls to his office nor did John R. McGinley Jr., a Pittsburgh attorney who leads his family's interest in the team.

But McGinley told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Tuesday that he thought Flaherty's letter was premature because the Rooneys are only discussing a sale and are not involved yet in hard negotiations.
"We have nothing but concern for the propriety of the process," McGinley told the newspaper.

Rooney's four brothers are said to want more money than he is willing to pay for their shares, leading both sides to look for investors. The four brothers have hired the investment firm Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to calculate the value of their shares, while Dan Rooney has turned to Morgan Stanley for guidance in the matter.

One possible scenario has Druckenmiller buying out the other Rooney brothers with Dan and Art Rooney II keeping managing control of the team.
Goldman Sachs analysts have put the team's value at $800 million to $1.2 billion.

This just keeps getting worse and worse for Dan and Art II :eek1:

07-16-2008, 06:05 PM
I can see the Contollers point.

07-16-2008, 06:17 PM
Personally I don't see what difference it makes; the public tax dollars helped to pay for it regardless of who owns the team. The Steelers and the taxpayers are the ones involved here; as long as the team stays in Pittsburgh and at Heinz field I don't really think it's an issue of paying money back because the team is still here, the stadium is still here, etc.

07-16-2008, 08:15 PM
This was on the news (KDKA) the other night. They said something about if the steelers stay in pittsburgh for the next 75 years then the steelers won't pay anything back.

If it does come about that the steelers have to pay money back, you can bet that ticket prices will go up. Heck, with new ownership ticket prices might go up.

07-16-2008, 09:38 PM
Ticket prices are already going up so that will just exacerbate the problem even further regardless of who retains or gains ownership :evilshake: