Greg Williams is an unabashed Steelers fan. And he wants his company to become as much a part of Pittsburgh as his favorite football team.
Williams is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Acrisure, and on Tuesday Williams and Steelers President Art Rooney II presided over a news conference to announce a partnership between the two businesses for the naming rights to the venue where the Steelers and the Pitt football team play their home games, where the WPIAL championships are played annually, and where Western Pennsylvania's biggest concerts are held, including appearances by The Rolling Stones, Kenny Chesney, Taylor Swift, U2, Garth Brooks, Beyonce, and Bon Jovi.
At the moment Rooney stepped to the podium and addressed the assembled media in the PNC Champions Club, Heinz Field officially became Acrisure Stadium.
"Starting today, the new name of the stadium is Acrisure Stadium," said Rooney. "Acrisure is a fast-growing, technology driven asset manager in markets around the world. It has an exciting future, and we are pleased to welcome Acrisure as a very important part of the Steelers' future. Before I ask Greg Williams to come up and say a few words, I want to acknowledge Thomas Tull, who was the catalyst in bringing us together."
The naming rights deal is for 15 years, and while Rooney declined to delve into the specifics of the financial arrangement, he did say, "We're certainly pleased with where we are."
Rooney then added, "I think it brings us into a more competitive range with other stadiums around the country, and so that really was the goal – to be able to be in a more competitive situation with our peers."
Williams seemed genuinely happy to have the opportunity to become a partner with the team he first began to follow as an adolescent. "I was born in 1961, and so think about the 1970s and the age I was at that time. Not hard to fall in love with all the winning the Steelers did, but it was also the brand of football, the toughness with which they played. I'm probably one of the rare football fans who like watching defense, and so you go back to those days and see Joe Greene and Ernie Holmes and Dwight White and L.C. Greenwood and Jack Ham and Jack Lambert and the others. The list goes on in terms of the players we watched and were fans of. It was a combination of the winning, and then as you get older – and hopefully a little bit more mature – you also learn to appreciate the quality of the organization.
"The way the Steelers are run, how respected they are as an organization and in terms of how they do things, I would tell you that culturally, there couldn't be a better alignment … There is a cultural alignment here, and I think that is part of why this makes sense as well."
The Pittsburgh Steelers & Acrisure announced a 15-year stadium naming rights partnership
A long-standing part of Steelers culture is the franchise's visibility and activity within the community, and with Acrisure now the team's most visible partner Williams expressed pride in the agreement for the naming rights to the stadium and explained how his company planned to make its mark in Pittsburgh.
"When Thomas called and asked, 'Greg, with you knowing the history in terms of the love that we have for the Steelers, is this something that is kind of a natural partnership?' And it didn't take long to say, yes. Then it was a matter of meeting Art and getting a sense of what the opportunity would need to look like for the Steelers to say yes. And so, with that, it concluded quickly and has come together quickly. And again, we just couldn't be prouder to be affiliated as partners with the Steelers.
"The other thing I will mention is that … once we're involved in something, we're involved. You know Children's Hospital, and in Grand Rapids as an example, once we moved to downtown Grand Rapids, (getting involved with Children's Hospital) was one of the first things that we did, and we can continue to contribute meaningful dollars, tens of millions of dollars to that community. And the intent is to do the same thing here. What we're going to rely on is a lot of help from Art and the Steelers as far as where we can be the most impactful, and so that's something we will lean into as well. We're happy to be here, proud and privileged to be here. Looking forward to getting to know as many of you as we can, while we're again trying to make a real impact in the community beyond just the Pittsburgh Steelers."
Once the news conference morphed into a Q&A, one of the first questions had to do with the potential fate of the ketchup bottles that are a part of the stadium's jumbotron. It can be said that Steelers fans love tradition, just as it also could be pointed out that Steelers fans resist change.
"Well, let me start by saying that we appreciate the 20-plus-year partnership that we had with Heinz," said Rooney, "and we are optimistic and hopeful that we'll continue to have a sponsorship relationship with them. We're having those discussions."