Steelers President Art Rooney II
50 years, is it hard to believe that much time has passed since the Steelers first came here?
It is hard to believe that we've been here 50 years. I was a ball boy back in those days. Things were a little different. We certainly weren't sitting on six world championships. It was a different atmosphere, so it feels good that we've come this far in 50 years.
How about all the changes? This was just a practice field. The campus was here, but in 50 years it's become so much more.**
Well it's a beautiful campus, and the changes that have been made to it are outstanding, and it has really become a wonderful summer home for us. And the best part about it is that we've had a lot of success coming out of Saint Vincent. So we're happy to be here, and it's great to celebrate our 50th camp here.
How important was it to keep people around like [Mike] Tomlin and [Kevin] Colbert?
We have a good team leading us in terms of Mike and Kevin, as well as our coaching and scouting staffs. We've got a great team in place, so we're happy to keep everyone together.
Has it been difficult staying here and practicing here during the summer when other teams are going back to their headquarters and choosing to spend their summers there?
No, it hasn't been difficult for us. This works for us. It's a great set-up. Our fans love it here, and our coaches love it here. Sometimes our players like it here, so it's worked out great.
What's your favorite memory from here?
There was the time I stole Joe Greene's car. I remember that incident, going way back. But no, really it was seeing a lot of great players start their careers here. Terry Bradshaw stepped on this field. Franco Harris, guys like that, just being able to see that things are changing. It was a remarkable time when we first started here, that's for sure.
Did you target Joe's car specifically?
Joe showed up in a beautiful green Lincoln Continental, and me and Bill Nunn, Jr. were ball boys. Somehow Bill got the keys one night and we decided to take it for a ride. We only told Joe that story about 10 years ago. We figured that enough time had passed that we could disclose our little joy ride.
Fifty years of Steelers football at Saint Vincent College.
How realistic is it that Pittsburgh could actually host a Super Bowl at some point?**
My answer to that is why not? It really is up to the league to determine when the next time will be that we have an outdoor Super Bowl, but I think once that decision is made, I'm not sure why we would not be able to do it when compared to a lot of other cities. I think we have a little ways to go. Some things have to be put in place, and that's what we'll be working on for the next couple of years.
What are some of the biggest hurdles to [hosting a Super Bowl]?
I think we'll need some new hotels, full service hotels. I know there's a couple of them on the drawing board, so I think things like that we'll have to figure out. Practice facilities, obviously there's one available, but we'll have to investigate where the second one will be. And then, just making sure that the various venues for parties and functions are going to be available in that time frame. You have to work on that stuff way in advance. Some people are surprised that we're working on it this early, but you really have to start with this kind of a lead.
Is Heinz Field big enough?
We'll probably look into adding some seats to it, [maybe] temporary seating. We're going to add almost 3,000 seats this year, so we'll have a little over 68,000 capacity. We'd like to be over 70,000 by the time we submit the bid, so we'll investigate where we can add the temporary seating.
Would Highmark Stadium not pass as a practice facility?
I think one of the practice facilities is indoor, obviously, so we'd have to have a second indoor practice facility. That'll be the question, whether it's a bubble somewhere, or something else they can put together.
What's the next step for the league in that regard?
It's really on us to get prepared. The role of the league really won't kick in until 2018. That's when they'll start to really investigate the teams. That assumes that at some point they'll make a decision that there is going to be an outdoor northern Super Bowl, which we don't know that part yet either.
How does the bidding process work? How many teams are you up against? Can anyone submit a bid?
Well, I've heard a number of cities that are interested in submitting a bid, if there is a northern outdoor game permitted, so we don't know how many. In a normal year, there are usually two or three that get to the final bidding stage, so I would assume it'll be something like that again. But for now, I've heard five or six different cities that would be interested.
Five or six northern cities?
Are you comfortable that you'll put a bid in eventually? Would you say that's likely at this point, or are you still exploring?
I would say that we're still exploring, but I would say that we're confident we can get there. Right now, I'd put it in the likely category.
Do you feel that with everything your family has contributed to this league that that should be a factor when awarding the next northern Super Bowl?
I don't know. I would hesitate to say that. When it comes down to a vote of the ownership, whether it factors in at that point or not, I wouldn't want to predict.
Was New York a litmus test or was it more of a special kind of faction that it was New York City?
I think New York opened the door to it. The fact that they were successful in hosting an outdoor game, I think that's what opened the league's eyes to that maybe [it could happen] again. That was sort of a test that had to be passed.
Would you have to install field turf or an artificial surface?
We'll have to investigate the turf. We have been fairly successful in recent years in keeping the surface playable late in the year in December and January. Part of that would be the league's decision. They would have some input on whether they were comfortable with us staying with grass. That's something we'd have to investigate over the next couple of years.
Do you have anything in the way of economic impact projections, or does that have to wait?
We'll be asking for an impact study at some point, but we haven't started down that road yet. There are some impact studies available that other cities have done, but we haven't done one for Pittsburgh yet.
Is that for 2023?
2023 is the year we're talking about.
Have you been in touch with the Minneapolis people?
We have not yet, but we plan to be in touch with them, yes.