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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Steelers Want You To Pay For 3000 More Seats

Recently, my beloved Steelers pulled a somewhat dick move.  They want to add an additional 3000 seats to Heniz Field and in order to fund the approximately $30 million dollar effort, they want the Sports and Exhibition Authority to cover  2/3 of the cost.

What does this mean?

It means that, in order to see a home game at Heinz Field, which is 25th in capacity among the NFL stadiums in seating capacity, fans would have to pay an additional dollar in ticket price and two or three dollars to park at the stadium.

Fun facts:
When Three Rivers was imploded 12 years ago, there was still $26 million in debt on the books for it.
The cost for this addition is roughly what it cost to build said imploded stadium (1968 dollars approx.)

Now, that may not seem like much but the bigger picture is this:
Do you think that the Steelers will drop the increase on tickets or parking once the project is funded?
Do you think the fans will receive anything in return for funding this expansion?

Look, I love the boys in black and gold, and I’ve always looked at the Rooneys as doing things the right way.  If anything else, they are doing things the best way to put out a great product.   But to say:

That’s pretty bold in a lot of ways:
  • One, average attendance for all of 2012’s home games was 61,141 
  • Two, the stadium holds, at capacity, 65,050.
    Stats from ESPN.Com
That 61k counts fans that walked through the turnstiles, not paid attendance (i.e. Season ticket holders)

So, they want to add 3000 more seats when they are averaging a little less than 4000 towards max capacity.  If they have another lackluster season and attendance doesn’t change, that’s almost 7000 people who won’t go to games.

It’s not like these new seats will be cheaper, right?  If people aren’t paying now, what makes you think they will pay later?

Win another Super Bowl and we’ll talk.   Keep your players from trying to run down cops in the South Side, and we’ll talk.
Otherwise, pony up  your own money and build the seats, and then when you do win number seven, you can pay back yourselves by raising prices.   Don’t do it on the PROMISE of doing better, which you haven’t done in four years.

Let’s put it another way.

First point.
If I want to build a business or improve my home, maybe to sell it, I have to get a loan.  I go to a bank and they give me money and an interest rate.   When I’m finished paying back the loan, my house sells, maybe for a profit.   The thing is, the bank doesn’t just give me the money because I’m going to make a profit.   They want something in return.   Not the bank next to it, the bank that gave me the money.   Why should fans just give the Steelers money to add more seats that they won’t sit in?  The quick answer is the money being put back into the economy in the form of jobs (construction, retail and concessions, and administration) and taxes.   Yet, a bulk of that money never makes it to those places as it is absorbed by the organization in the form of revenue.   Not to mention, the increase becomes the norm, until the next time they raise prices.

Second point.
Forbes had the Steelers worth about $1.01 billion in 2011.  
The Rooneys also have interest in racetracks with slot machines (remember that restructuring plan that had to occur to get that off the books?)
They can finance this themselves.
Pitt fans will never fill these seats.  (side joke)

The kerfuffle lies in the language of the lease.  I can abide by the fact that the legalize allows them to classify the addition as a SEA fundable project, but don’t think this doesn’t reek of hypocrisy.

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