Reporting Andy Sheehan
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Fans pack Heinz Field for every home game and the Steelers would like to add 3,000 more.
Those new seats would cost about $30 million and the team wants the public entity known as the SEA, the Sports and Exhibition Authority, to pick up $20 million of that tab.
The SEA refuses, and that’s why the Steelers have taken them to court.
“We think the obligations are clear under the lease,” said Kevin Lucas, the attorney for the Steelers. “That’s why we filed the lawsuit, and as the case proceeds on the normal course, we intend to prove those obligations, the clear obligations of the SEA as landlord.
In addition, the Steelers want to SEA to come up with $3.6 million for a new scoreboard at the closed end of the stadium and to pay them $5 million for improvements the team’s already made to the stadium control room.
The bill comes to nearly $29 million in all, but the SEA said it’s not on the hook for it under the lease.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “You are not in violation of the lease?”
SEA Attorney Walter DeForest: “That’s correct sir. That’s our position, and I believe we will be strongly defending this case.
Much of the funding would come from increases in game day parking and seat licensing, but the SEA says under the lease it would only be obligated to pay for such capital improvements if they were constructed in more than half of the other publically-funded stadiums in the NFL.
The Steelers have a different reading.
“We disagree with their interpretation of the lease to begin with,” said Lucas. “We’ll prove, we’ll present our evidence – the appropriate evidence, the relevant evidence – in court at the appropriate time.”
So, just who is responsible for this $29 million price tag? The Steelers and the Exhibition Authority remain diametrically opposed, so a judge will decide who’s right.
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