PITTSBURGH (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — Surprise, surprise, the Pittsburgh Steelers and a Columbus Ohio-based real estate developer are asking for $4 million in public money to help fund the construction of a $12 million entertainment complex planned on the North Shore after closing on a controversial land deal last week.
According to Frank Kass, chairman of Continental Real Estate — the developer in question, the project may be a dead issue without public subsidy, the Post-Gazette reported. Kass thinks a subsidy from the city or state would replace a state grant that had been given to the team several years ago to build a 5,600-seat amphitheater at the same spot. The deal never materialized however and the grant expired.
"When the project was conceptualized, it was conceptualized with a subsidy," Mr. Kass told the Post-Gazette in reference to the amphitheater project. "You can't do any of this stuff without a subsidy. None of it makes sense," he added.
Kass maintains that the project would bring additional revenue from both taxes and tourism to the city and far outweighs the financial burden imposed by a $4 million dollar investment from the state. Not everyone is on board with the plan.
Councilman William Peduto is one of the people taking issue with the plan. According to Peduto, the complex wasn't part of the deal.
"There was a commitment when Steve Leeper was the Sports & Exhibition Authority director that there would be no additional taxpayer money used in the development between the stadiums. Somebody has decided to change that rule. That's not surprising given everything that's happened in the past year on this land," Peduto told the Post-Gazette.
Peduto also took issue with the valuation of the north shore land just sold to the team in what Peduto terms a "Sweetheart" deal. The Stadium Authority voted to sell the plot of land which was described as the "crown jewel" of the North Shore to the Steelers for 1.37 million, roughly 8 dollars per square foot the Post-Gazette reported. Critics have argued that the land was undervalued by a factor of 10 but the Stadium Authority's appraiser ascribed a valuation of $1.1 million for the plot of land, based on its use for an entertainment complex.
The Steelers franchise is worth a cool $1.2 billion. – CelebrityAccess Staff Writers