PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Dan Rooney not only played a pivotal role in building the Pittsburgh Steelers, he also worked tirelessly to transform the city that he loved.
Part of that city is the North Shore. At one time, it was the home of Three Rivers Stadium, and not a lot more. However, in the past 20 years, it has undergone a dramatic change.
And Rooney was a pivotal player in making that change.
“The Rooneys, Dan and Art, made the North Shore happen,” said Tom Murphy, former mayor of Pittsburgh. “We’re negotiating with the Pirates, we’re negotiating with the Steelers, with the hotel people about a new convention center, and Dan is the glue that brings it together.”
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The former mayor was an integral part of the concept of changing the North Shore.
The seed was planted when the owners of the Pirates announced they were selling the team.
“So, we start talking to Kevin McClatchy, who bought the Pirates, and Dan and Art Rooney. It was really about, about a vision for Pittsburgh,” Murphy said. “You know, it wasn’t simply about, we’re going to build a football stadium and a ballpark, but it was about how do we begin to use this as a catalytic opportunity for the city. We had some difficult negotiations, but there was never, you always knew at the end of the day you were going to reach an agreement. There was never a “we’re out of here” if you don’t give us what we want.”
Murphy says there was never a question about Rooney’s dedication to Pittsburgh, and what football meant to the city.
“When we were talking about doing all of this in the mid-90s, it was not clear what Pittsburgh was going to be,” Murphy said. “You know, we were losing lots of population, a lot of young people were leaving, and I felt strongly, and I think Dan did, that these ballparks could be the catalyst to say, ‘We’re back.’ And, you know, the world has heard that message now.”
Murphy has been a state legislator representing the city, and served as its mayor. He has seen a lot, and can attest to the importance of Dan Rooney.
“If there is a dynasty in this city, it is the Rooney family. And, Art now has to fill big shoes,” Murphy said.