Heinz Field Expansion

Yet another reason taxpayers should have a basic understanding of economics.

The director of planning and development for the Steelers, commenting on the impending trial of the team’s lawsuit against the Sports and Exhibition Authority (SEA) for refusing to pay two thirds of the cost to add 3,000 seats, is quoted as saying "it (the pre-trial hearing) was an important step to make sure the SEA lives up to its obligations." And then he proceeded to add, "The expansion of Heinz Field will allow an opportunity for more Steeler fans to attend games." Not content with that, the speaker went on, "If this matter is not resolved in the near future, another year of increased fan attendance and increased revenue will be lost."

This self-serving commentary notwithstanding, the question the Steelers should answer is this: "Will the new seats and scoreboard pay the full cost of building them with additional ticket sales, seat licenses, concession revenue and other in-stadium and game day parking revenue resulting from the 3,000 additional seats?" If the cost of the project, along with any borrowing costs, can be recouped and perhaps even boost profits through increased revenue generated by the additional seats within ten years, the Steelers ought to build the project and pay for it themselves.

If the project will not generate enough revenue to pay for itself, the Steelers should not build it.

Clearly, they should not be asking taxpayers to subsidize a project that will add to Steeler profits. And they certainly should not be asking for taxpayers to help pay for a project that cannot pay for itself.

Why should taxpayers subsidize another 3,000 fans who want to see Steeler games in person? When is enough, enough? If fan demand for tickets is sufficiently strong to warrant putting in another 3,000 seats, then fan demand is strong enough to raise prices to pay for seat additions. The attitude of entitlement on the part of the team and many of its fans with seats who are happy to get the heavy subsidy they receive is nothing short of deplorable.