The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


November 1, 2012

Steelers threaten suit over Heinz Field seating

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers have filed notice they’ll sue the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority over stalled plans to add 3,000 seats to the team’s 11-year-old stadium, Heinz Field.

The Steelers contend their lease requires the authority to pay about two-thirds of the estimated $39 million the team expects it will cost to add the end zone seats and a new video scoreboard those fans can see.

The team thought the authority could raise its share through a $1 ticket surcharge and an extra $2-$3 parking fee but Alco Parking Co., which operates the stadium lots, has balked at that.

As a result, the authority – which runs the city’s sports stadiums and venues like its convention center – has so far refused to foot its share of the looming bill, the team says.

A clause in the team’s 30-year stadium lease requires the authority to pay two-thirds of a “designated expansion” of no more than 10,000 seats in the south end zone, which is where the team wants to add the new seats.

The stadium now has 65,050 seats.

“I think the court can help us interpret terms of the lease that we think are very clear,” said Mark Hart, the team’s director of strategic planning and development.

“This state-of-the-art expansion assures that Heinz Field would remain the first-class facility our fans expect and deserve,” team President Art Rooney II said in a statement.

“The SEA is our landlord and it is not holding up its end of the lease.”

Authority Executive Director Mary Conturo said the agency has continued to negotiate with the Steelers, but is also limited by how much debt it can incur and how much income it is able to raise to fund that debt.

The authority had hoped to use the ticket surcharge and extra parking revenue to support a $20 million bond issue toward its share of the cost.

Alco President Merrill Stabile said the Steelers “can finance this all themselves” and objects to passing on the parking fee to his customers.

Stabile said Alco is willing to contribute an unspecified amount to the authority’s share of the expansion costs, however.

The Steelers contributed more than $123 million toward the cost of the stadium, which cost $281 million to build, but raised most of its share by selling the 20-year naming rights to the H.J. Heinz Co. for $57 million and $40 million by selling personal seat licenses to fans.

Rooney said the Steelers have already advanced $6 million on design, planning and improvements needed for the planned expansion.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Steelers Patriots Front.JPG Gronkowski cleared to play at Patriots training camp

    Rob Gronkowski has been cleared to play at the New England Patriots training camp.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Dodgers Pirates Polanco, Walker lift Pirates over Dodgers

    Gregory Polanco broke out of a slump with a solo home run and a tiebreaking two-run single, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 12-7 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.
    Polanco, hitting just .133 in his previous 11 games, smacked a bases-loaded single with two outs in the sixth to put Pittsburgh in front for good.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • Pirates 0721 Rallying Dodgers snap Pirates’ win streak at 3 games

    Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched seven strong innings, Adrian Gonzalez reached base five times and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-2 on Monday night.
    Ryu (11-5) joined Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in making the Dodgers the first team in the majors with three 11-game winners.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0720 Pirates rally to keep sweep

    Taking the extra base was the key for the Pittsburgh Pirates in completing a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies.
    Andrew McCutchen hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning, Neil Walker followed with a home run and the Pirates overcame a three-run deficit to beat the Rockies 5-3 Sunday.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • McIlroy 0720 McIlroy holds on to win British Open

    Walking off the 18th green as the British Open champion, Rory McIlroy kept gazing at all the greats on golf’s oldest trophy.
    On the claret jug, his name is etched in silver below Phil Mickelson.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pirates 0719 Pirates take second straight over Rockies, win in 11th inning

    Jordy Mercer doubled home Neil Walker with one out in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.
    Walker led off the inning with a single against Colorado’s Chad Bettis (0-2), moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored one batter later when Mercer hit a drive deep into the gap in left-center.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • out at home Eighth-inning rally carries Pirates to victory over Rockies

    Travis Snider’s pinch-hit double in the eighth scored Neil Walker to spark the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Friday night.
    Walker trotted home when Colorado right fielder Carlos Gonzalez couldn’t track down Snider’s sinking line drive off reliever Matt Belisle (2-5). All-Star Josh Harrison added a sacrifice fly one batter later.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • score Pirates in race, hope for late surge

    The Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves in an average, every day – if still heated – pennant race.
    A season after shedding the yoke of two decades of failure with a stirring run to a playoff berth, the Pirates are just another solid if not spectacular team trying to keep pace in the jam-packed NL Central.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Derby 0714 Cespedes wins again, beating Frazier in HR derby

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • All-Star Game 0714 Pitching matchup features two of game’s most dominant arms

    July 14, 2014 1 Photo


What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads