After threatening the SEA with a law suit in an attempt to force the authority to pay the cost of adding seats to Heinz Field, the Steelers have settled for having the SEA borrow the needed funds to be repaid by the team. This settlement with the SEA has to be the result of the likelihood of losing in court and the public relations beating the team was suffering on the issue. The Steelers will add a ticket surcharge to cover the bond debt service.
As we noted when the lawsuit was first talked about, the Steelers have benefitted enormously from the tax dollars expended to build the stadium. Given the profitability of Heinz Field and strong demand for tickets it only made sense for the Steelers to incur the cost of building the additional seating. It was the height of arrogance to ask the taxpayers through the SEA to bear the expense.
If the Steelers believed the seats would not pay for themselves in a reasonable time period, then why would it be in the interest of taxpayers to underwrite their cost? This should have never been an issue. Obviously, the Steelers believe the seats will be a profitable investment. The fact that the Steelers made their demands of the SEA is a reflection of the assumption by the City’s sports teams that they are owed public subsidy, and lots of it. And given the past behavior of politicians who bend to their wishes they are probably justified in that belief.
Good for the SEA for holding firm in this case. Perhaps it is a portent of things to come in these matters.