It appears the red tape and bickering are finally over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are set to expand and renovate Heinz Field. The team finally reached an agreement with the Pittsburgh-Allegheny Sports & Exhibition Authority – a back and forth battle that has seen several on and off days in court with regards to who will pay for the renovations to the stadium that first opened in 2001.
The Steelers will add 3,000 seats and a giant high definition screen as part of this renovation. The biggest sticking point of a project like this was who was going to get stuck with the tab. The Steelers contended that the PASEA should pay for it, thus saddling the taxpayers with the bill. The PASEA said the cost fell on the Steelers since this was not part of the original lease agreement and would ultimately increase the team’s revenue. From most of the articles I’ve read about the agreement, it sounds as if this was a mutual agreement, and no judge was forced to step in and make a decision for them. I’m guessing the Steelers wanted to make sure they could complete this renovation as soon as possible, so they agreed to finally pay for the project…. but there’s a catch.
The Steelers will add a $1 surcharge to every ticket sold to pay for the renovations. So, the Steelers aren’t really paying for it – the fans are. As an advocate against tax payers having to pay for extravagant new sports complexes that only the bourgeoisie can fully enjoy, I’m glad that the citizens of Pittsburgh are not forced to pay this in some lame added sales tax for the next ten years. I do find it somewhat backhanded that the Steelers are making fans pay for the total package, leaving the Steelers to pay a little upfront money on that first $2.1 million increase on the lease payment.
My one other concern about this project is the actual location of the renovation. Last reports of the project details had the expansion taking place on the south side of the field – the side of the field that faces that beautiful cityscape. The size of the HD scoreboard has yet to become public knowledge, but I’m guessing it’s going to block a sizable chunk of that wonderful view the home crowd and those of us watching the telecasts get to see (oh how my heart aches with homesickness when I see on TV that city laid out behind a sea of Terrible Towels). Hopefully it won’t impact the view too much and become more of an eyesore than a joy to watch bone crunching hits from Troy Polamalu. Get a good look at the picture at the top. Might be only so many of those shots left over the next year.
And hey, could the seats and screen be enough to affect wind patterns down on that end of the field?