Let’s face it. Sporting events in the major leagues are no longer the egalitarian gatherings that they once were, and the reason is simple: price point. Not everybody can afford to go to sporting events to support their favorite teams simply because they are priced out.
Which is why it’s not an uncommon sight, not just in football, but in all of the major leagues in American sports, to see a slew of empty seats during broadcasts—assuming that the game gets broadcast. The NFL has had blackout rules that would result in local-market games not being aired if the games did not sell a certain number of tickets, in order to encourage fans to attend the games.
While even the Pittsburgh Steelers have had some attendance lulls, they remain one of the more fortunate franchises from a business perspective. Of course their recent success helps to keep people engaged, but they also have a loyal fanbase, though they do not take it for granted.
The team has worked to upgrade their stadium, Heinz Field, over the past decade or so, adding a couple thousand additional seats, a new giant state of the art video board, and now they are working on a significant expansion of Bud Light Pub 33 within the stadium.
And this time, the Steelers themselves are entirely footing the bill. Heinz Field is actually owned by the Sports & Exhibition Authority, and the team leases it from them. The two sides have quibbled in the past about who would be responsible for costs of upgrades, but not this time.
“They’re using their own funding”, the executive director of the authority told Bob Bauder of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It isn’t anything that we’re contributing to, and they’re responsible for all the maintenance”.
The plan is to see a 2000-square-foot expansion of the ground-floor pub, which would include a patio that extends onto Art Rooney Avenue. The total cost of the project is expected to be about $2.5 million.
“The new design will provide a variety of new amenities and offerings to guests both inside and outside of the stadium and will also provide a fan-friendly environment that is available during game days and non-event days”, the vice president of stadium development told the paper.
The project is expected to be completed in time for the regular season, on a schedule to be under construction from April to August. Those of you who get the opportunity to go to the games on a regular basis will be able to view the new accommodations, which will be able to support nearly 300 people on gameday, firsthand later this year.
Of course, Steelers fans are not going to go to the game because of an upgrade pub, though it doesn’t hurt. The team has to meet expectations on the field, first and foremost. Failing that, there is always a bit of liquid courage to make it more bearable, I suppose.