The Pittsburgh Steelers have plans to add 3,000 extra seats to Heinz Field as well as a new scoreboard. This proposed expansion is currently sitting in the judicial system because the Steelers want the public to pay for 2/3 of the $30 million price tag and they claim the lease states that is what should happen.
The Sports and Exhibition Authority is arguing in court that the lease language doesn’t mean what the Steelers think it means, so they should pay for their own expansion and leave the public funds out of it.
Legalese aside, in a nutshell, the Steelers are seeking $22.5 million from the public, and in return they’ll put up a whopping $750,000 of their own money toward the 3,000 new seats.
The proposed agreement would have funded the extra seats through a $1 increase in an existing surcharge on Steelers tickets and a new parking surcharge of $2 to $3 at lots around Heinz Field during home games.
I had a really fun debate on Twitter with 93.7’s Colin Dunlap, an awesome guy and a great writer whose opinion I continue to respect (follow him!), who played the devil’s advocate on this one and I at no point went all YOUR MOTHER on him. It was civil. He was wrong. I was right. The record will show. Also, those of you who claim I block people who disagree with me can kiss my cottage cheese butt.
But let’s go through some of his points and points that others might make in defense of the Steelers and let’s SQUASH THEM LIKE PUNY HUMANS. [awkward kung fu moves]
1. So what? It’s only a dollar here and there. — Not Colin’s argument, but an argument others have made.
This is dangerous thinking. This is the thinking that local, state, and federal governments have historically relied on — that the people will say, “Well, it’s just a few dollars here and there. What’s the big deal?” That’s what they’re counting on … that the masses will figure it’s not worth fighting over a few dollars. Here, rich person, take my dollar and put it with everyone else’s dollar and put it in a pile until that pile is so big you can build a tunnel through it. Have fun rolling around in our money!
That’s dangerous thinking because it sets a precedent for those in power to say, “Instead of digging into our astronomically deep pockets … instead of saving up … instead of cutting out gross waste to fund this thing we want … let’s just go to the people and tell them they have to give us another dollar. They won’t care. It’s a dollar.”
Those “another dollar” dollars add up and will do something much more damaging than put us back a dollar … they will put more power in the hands of the already powerful, leaving we the people with zero power because we’re thinking, “Eh. It’s just a dollar. Here. Have fun making a hundred dollars for yourself off of my one dollar. Do what you will. Let me know when you need another dollar.”
2. But the expansion will bring jobs to those who build it, and for the ushers and vendors who will work those 3,000 extra seats. — paraphrasing Colin here.
The public already rewarded them by footing most of the bill for the actual stadium. Besides that, LOTS of local businesses create jobs and their employees make that business MONEY. The ushers? Will make the Steelers money. The people building the expansion? Will make the Steelers a crapton of money. That’s how businesses work. My husband and I own a downtown business. We hire people. They work hard. We pay them. They make money for us. We then pay taxes on that money. We’re not getting public money as a reward for that and neither should the Steelers.
3. The Rooneys pay taxes. — Colin.
So? We all pay taxes. In addition, are we supposed to hand rich people our money for free with nothing in return just so they’ll pay more taxes to the city coffers? Please. Without our money, the seats will still get added on and the Rooneys will still get richer (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and they’ll pay more in taxes. It’s the circle of life, Simba. #hakunamatata
4. 3,000 extra people eight times a year is LOTS OF MONEY for local businesses. The Steelers should be rewarded.
First, no, it’s NOT a lot of money for local businesses. 3,000 extra people? You might get 20 of them into the Bettis Grille. We might get two at Las Velas. A total of 500 of them, if that, might spend a few dollars at some place OUTSIDE the stadium (The Furries will spend more than these 3,000 people will. LET’S GIVE THE FURRIES SOME PUBLIC MONEY!). But a great vast majority of them are going to put their money into … wait for it … THE STEELERS. They’ll tailgate and then go into the stadium to buy expensive beers and Steelers branded merchandise. It is the STEELERS who will be making money off of these 3,000 seats via seat licenses. My research would put the fee at maybe $1,500 or $1,000 each. Don’t quote me on that. I’m guessing.
On top of that, the Steelers will get the annual tickets sales, plus a percentage of the official license transfers and believe you me, they will get transferred, because as you can see, what you buy for $1,000, you can sell for $10,000. They’ll get an extra 3,000 people buying concessions and merchandise. Make no mistake, it is not you and I or local businesses making money off of 3,000 seats. It is the Steelers. 99% … the Steelers.
Again, here, rich person, take my dollar and use it to make $100 for yourself.
P.S. The Steelers are worth $1.02 BAH-illion.
5. As anchor, they are helping/allowing other businesses to have a chance. — This is a Colin argument.
The stadium is already there, already built by $281 million in public funds. They’ve been rewarded. 3,000 extra seats does nothing for local businesses. Your argument is invalid, puny human.
6. Keep this up and you’ll get rubbed out by the Yinzerluminati. — @blackngoldlabel, jokingly on Twitter.
This is valid. I’m scared. Steelers fans can be crazy. Look at Lukey. But … [awkward kung fu moves].
I love the Steelers. So much. In general. I could do without their ridiculous Twitter accounts that pretend the laws of grammar and spelling and vowels in general never existed. I could do without the burgeoning egos of men who have never even been to space. That said, I’m a forever fan. You know this.
But I’m an even bigger fan of “the people.” I’m a fan of Pittsburgh. I’m a fan of the rich getting richer on their own dime, not ours. I’m a fan of the people taking a stand when the powerful make money-grabs like this.
Philadelphia is funding their new $125 million stadium expansion with their own money and help from the NFL. They haven’t touched the public coffers despite the fact that THE CITY owns the stadium. There’s no reason the Steelers can’t foot the bill for this $30 million expansion on their own. They’ll make that money back plus some faster than you can say GET YOUR HANDS OUT OF MY WALLET.
We’ve already rewarded the Steelers by putting $281 million into building that stadium and allowing them to make A FORTUNE off of it. It’s time for them to look in their own wallet.
Or worst case, they can take it to Kickstarter.
I’ve heard it works.