A new Steelers stadium? Think again

A new Steelers stadium? Think again

The rumblings are picking up in volume that the Pittsburgh Steelers might – might, mind you – not be long for Acrisure Stadium.

With their lease at the 20-plus-year-old North Shore facility up in 2030, media speculators are attempting to read the tea leaves to determine if the venerable NFL franchise is setting itself (and taxpayers?) up for new edifice to the barons of sport.

In a FanNation website posting Friday last – headlined “Steelers appear ready for stadium change” (with a secondary headline reading, “The Pittsburgh Steelers seem to be putting the pieces together for a massive move”) Noah Strackbein details a recent major Steelers’ promotion:

“The Steelers announced the promotion of David Morehouse to executive vice president for strategy after joining the team as a senior advisor last fall. According to a press release, his role will be the ‘strategic direction of Acrisure Stadium operations.’

“Which makes you wonder, are the Steelers the next team to make some serious changes to their home turf?”

Misleading headlines aside, Strackbein goes on to note additionally an investment into upgraded restrooms at Acrisure, among other things, but then admits “it’s hard to envision a total rebuild of the North Shore location.”

And he concedes that “team president Art Rooney II has made it known he’d like to renew the agreement when it expires.”

Still, what the Steelers will expect/demand from taxpayers even then remains a wildcard. But the scenario should be what taxpayers expect/demand from the Steelers.

Namely, that should involve the Steelers taking over the football stadium from the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority (which owns the facility on behalf of the public) and placing the property on which it sits to the tax rolls.

Don’t hold your breath, of course. But neither should the Steelers’ public benefactors fall over and play dead and gift the Steelers a brand-new stadium.

But that’s exactly what local sports columnist Mark Madden did the other day.

Writing in the Tribune-Review:

“Since 2000, more than $4.3 billion of public funding has been spent to build stadiums and arenas in the United States. That’s despite little evidence to support the oft-said concept of resulting economic growth for the host city and surrounding area.

“Why does it keep happening?” Madden asks.

“Because that’s how it works. It’s ingrained.

“If the Steelers want a new stadium, they’ll get it. … So, when the time comes, shut up. No point railing against the inevitable,” Madden concludes.

Sorry, but no.

To paraphrase more than a few of the great economists in history, the public has been despoiled of a great deal of its wealth by the sophistry of not only those seeking to dive ever deeper into the taxpayers’ pockets what they alone should pay but also those all too willing to throw their hands up declaring such highwaymannery a fait accompli.

But it isn’t. And it’s long past time to stop such nonsense.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).