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First and 10: What Does Future Hold for Steelers, Heinz Field?

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Acrisure Stadium Heinz Field Pittsburgh Steelers

The Cleveland Browns are exploring a significant renovation to FirstEnergy Stadium along the shore of Lake Erie, likely the first of many NFL teams to seek stadium upgrades in the coming years.

The NFL experienced a stadium boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s, with half the league’s venues built between 1995 and 2003. With. typical lifespan of 30 years, those leases are about to start to come up, and many teams will have changes in mind. They Browns opened their stadium in 1999, smack in the middle of that boom, and interests in Pittsburgh should carefully watch what happens in Cleveland, as Heinz Field came along just two years later.

The Steelers have continued to invest in their now 21-year-old stadium. They added 2,400 seats and field-level suites to the south end zone in 2015, added new scoreboards on the north side of the stadium, renovated the Great Hall, added a new $10-million team store in 2020 that contains space for a to-be-added team Hall of Honor. The team also continues to invest in the property around the stadium, which it co-owns with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

But despite those investments, much of the stadium looks the same as it did when it was built in 2001. Having spent a good amount of time in both venues, I think the Browns’ stadium has held up better over time than the Steelers’ has. So when the Heinz Field lease comes up, there’s going to be a significant ask of the Sports & Exhibition Authority — and by proxy, the Western Pa. taxpayers — to keep up with the Haslams.

Steelers fans should watch the proceedings in Cleveland carefully.

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