Steelers sue stadium owner over upgrades

Dec. 18, 2012 at 4:41 PM

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 18 (UPI) -- The Pittsburgh Steelers are suing the municipal authority that owns Heinz Field for $35 million in stadium improvements the team says aren't its responsibility.

Heinz Field, where the Steelers have played for 11 seasons, is owned by the Sports & Exhibition Authority, a taxpayer-supported joint entity overseen by the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Negotiations over who should pay for improvements at the stadium, which include a $3.65 million scoreboard and $40 million for the addition of 3,000 end zone seats, had been ongoing for months before breaking down, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Tuesday.

Authority lawyers declined to comment on the suit in specific, saying they hadn't fully read it. Mary Conturo, executive director of the authority, acknowledged most of the issues raised in the suit were the same as what the two sides failed to agree on earlier this year. The Tribune-Review said Steelers owner Arthur Rooney II couldn't be reached this week, but in a statement released Oct. 31 as negotiations deteriorated, said the authority hadn't met its obligations to the team as its landlord.

"This state-of-the-art expansion assures that Heinz Field would remain the first-class facility our fans expect and deserve. The SEA is our landlord, and it is not holding up its end of the lease," Rooney said. "It is unfortunate that the SEA has chosen not to live up to its promises and obligations as landlord. At this point, we have been left with no alternative other than to go to court to enforce the terms of our lease."

The lawsuit contends the authority doesn't have sufficient capital reserves to pay for stadium improvements and hasn't acted to raise the money, either through a proposed $1 ticket surcharge or increased parking fees, to make needed upgrades and repairs to Heinz Field.

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