The Pittsburgh Steelers have one of the longest and most storied histories in the National Football League.
Now, they have a place where fans of the team can go to see the stories of the people who helped shape that history and how the franchise reached the pinnacle of sports success at the brand new Hall of Honor Museum at Acrisure Stadium.
The Museum, which is located above the Steelers Pro Shop at Acrisure Stadium, opens to the public Friday, Nov. 11. It offers an interactive look at the nearly 90 years of the franchise, from the early days when Art Rooney Sr. created the team and joined the fledgling NFL, right up through the Super Bowl seasons in the '70s and '90s and everything in between.
"It was a labor of love putting it together, that's for sure," team president Art Rooney II said Thursday at a ribbon cutting ceremony. "Being able to display a lot of stuff we had in drawers and trunks, stuff like that, it is great to be able to put this on display and have our fans come in and learn more about the history."
Tickets for the Museum cost $18 for adults; $15 for Seniors and Military; $12 for children 6 to 17; and free for children 5 and under. Self-guided tours are available for purchase on the hour starting at 11 a.m. and ending at 3 p.m. Wednesday through Monday.
For a 1 p.m. game on Sundays, it is closed to the public, unless they have a Game Day Tour pass. For 4 p.m. games, it is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and then at 1 p.m. for those with a Game Day Tour pass. And for 8 p.m. games, it is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then at 5 p.m. for those with a Game Day Tour pass.
Tickets can be purchased at steelers.com/museum. Inquiries also can be made at 412-697-7150 (press 5) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All proceeds from the Museum benefit the Art Rooney Scholarship Fund.
See photos from the Steelers Hall of Honor Museum Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
Even the most fervent of Steelers fans will be awed by the artifacts, videos and interactive displays on hand that are on par with the exhibits one would see at a national park or museum.
"Finally! Wow! How great is this?" said Steelers Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris, who was on hand for the ribbon cutting.
"You're talking about the 'standard is the standard.' We talk about that all on the playing field, but off the playing field, as well. Fans are going to love this. This is incredible. There's so much history. It really captures the spirit, captures the story. … There's so much history when you look at the beginning and how tough things were, all the things the NFL had to go through, teams had to go through. They persevered and look where we're at today."
For Rooney, the idea has been one several years in the making.
But the idea became a reality when he hired an architect, PGAV, to design the new feature at Acrisure Stadium.
The acquisition of what would go into the exhibits was the interesting part. Much of it, the Rooney family, which has owned the team since its creation in 1933, was found going through old family photos and storage to find the artifacts.
Others took a little digging.
"Going through all of these pictures brought back an awful lot of memories," Rooney said while standing between replica offices of his grandfather Art Sr. and that of his father and former Steelers president Daniel M. Rooney. "Really, trying to pick through what to use and what not to use was a lot of work, to be honest with you.
"Some of those pictures we had in the family. Some of them we had to unearth. We reached out to different museums, different web sites, what we could find online. Tracking down pictures from different eras was a lot of fun. We had a lot more. We could have filled up another wall."
There's plenty to see, much of it that will bring back a lot of great memories for Steelers fans, particularly those from the team's six Super Bowl wins in the 1970s and 2000s. They're obviously featured.
But so, too, are every other era and decade of the team, as well as players from each of those eras.
And that's what Rooney wanted to capture for fans.
"I just want them to understand the history of trying to building a franchise," Rooney said. "My grandfather started the team in the 1930s. It was a rough time during The Depression. He actually started teams in the '20s and it grew into a professional team. I think the early history, it will be great to have people understand that better."
Fans are greeted with a short movie in a small theater that details the storied history of the franchise before moving on to the various eras of Steelers football that are represented in seven different areas, culminating with the Hall of Honor area, which includes all of the steel footballs given each member of the team's Hall of Honor, and then a fan experience area that includes a wall of thousands of fan photos from over the years.
The photos themselves are something Rooney feels his father, Dan, would have appreciated.
"He loved the history and he loved black and white photography," Rooney said. "We have a lot of black and white photography. I think he would like it. I hope so."
There's plenty to like, including an interactive radio booth that highlights some of the greatest plays in Steelers history and then allows fans to make their call of those plays. Fans are then emailed a copy of their call on that play.
There might even be a call in which Harris was a big part.
The Immaculate Reception is featured prominently in the Museum.
"I'm so happy fans are going to be able to come here and enjoy this," Harris said. "There's so much information here, visually, reading-wise. Steelers Nation just soak it in."