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Art Rooney II: Acrisure Deal Gives Steelers Competitive Edge

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Pittsburgh Steelers Owner Art Rooney II Acrisure Stadium
Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney II speaks from Acrisure Stadium Tuesday, July 12, 2022 -- ED THOMPSON

Art Rooney II spoke from the home of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ newly named Acrisure Stadium Tuesday. He didn’t delve into the specifics of the deal. Instead, he shed light on the advantages the new lucrative deal gives the Steelers.

“I don’t think we’re going to discuss financial terms,” Rooney said. “It’s a 15-year deal and we’re certainly pleased with where we are. All I can say is I think it brings us in a more competitive range with other stadiums around the country. That was really the goal; to be in a more competitive situation with our peers.”

COMPETITIVE EDGE

The ten year deal between Acrisure, the Michigan-based insurance and technology company, and the Steelers is a 15-year agreement that pays the Steelers an approximate $10 million per year. That’s an approximate 350 percent increase from the rate Heinz paid the Steelers for naming rights over the first 20 years of the stadium.

“Things like this allow us to be competitive in Pittsburgh,” Rooney said. “We thought we understood what the market value should be and compared it to other stadiums around the country. That’s the range we were shooting for.”

It’s also a rate that gives the Steelers the eleventh-highest rate for a naming rights contract of an NFL stadium. That’s a huge jump up from having the second-lowest rate in the NFL from the Steelers’ deal with Heinz. There is eight years left on the Steelers’ lease of the North Shore property where Acrisure Stadium stands. Rooney expressed confidence that the new deal will help lengthen the stadium’s time there.

“This deal doesn’t change our lease,” Rooney said. “We try to make improvements to the stadium every year. Part of that comes from our own private coffers and some of it comes from our ticket surcharge. We have funded a lot of improvements over the years and I think this will allow us to continue to do that.”

IMPROVEMENTS COMING

The Steelers have made several improvements over the years when Acrisure Stadum was named Heinz Field. One improvement in particular was to add an approximate 3,000 more seats to the arena to give it the current seating capacity of 68,400.

“We’re building a new museum on the other side of the stadium,” Rooney explained. “We’re replacing escalators, and none of that comes from taxpayer dollars. We’re looking to have as competitive situation as we can, both with our naming rights and our lease.”

Not only is the deal more competitive with other NFL teams, it rewrites the standard for what an older NFL stadium gets for naming rights. Out of the 10 NFL stadiums that have a higher pay rate than the Steelers do with Acrisure, only the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium is older than the 2001-built Acrisure Stadium.

STAYING IN PITTSBURGH

That means the Steelers got a lucrative deal that pays higher than two-thirds of the NFL, and without having to shell out money for a new stadium to get such an agreement. All of that plays into Rooney’s hopes that the Steelers stay at Acrisure Stadium long after its current lease is set to end in 2030.

“We’d love to, and we assume, we will extend the lease at some point,” Rooney said. “We haven’t quite gotten to that point yet and we still have about eight years left on the existing lease. I certainly hope we’re here longer than that. Obviously different contracts have different terms and the deals with the best terms expire. We’ll deal with that in the future. May not be me, and hopefully it’s somebody named Rooney, but some of those things will happen further down the road.”

Acrisure co-founder and CEO Greg Williams noted during the press event Tuesday that, although Acrisure is based in Michigan, it services over 100,000 Pennsylvania clients. Rooney did note that other local companies were in talks with the Steelers and weren’t turned away. The bottom line was just that none could match the offer from Acrisure.

“We’ve talked with a number of local companies over the last couple of years,” Rooney said. “The truth of the matter is we never closed the door on anybody. We just looked to make the best deal they can make. We’re really pleased that this turned out the way it did. To have somebody like Greg, the CEO of the company and a true Steelers fan, it couldn’t have worked out better as far as I’m concerned.”

If you want to watch the full Tuesday press conference in its entirety, click here.

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