The Pittsburgh Steelers want to create a sign within Heinz Field. A big sign. A sign that’s so big that that the Pittsburgh Zoning Board of Adjustment has a big problem with it. And the team is set to fight it out in order to get the plan approved.
The ‘sign’ isn’t actually a sign. Apparently, what they would like to do is to make a select number of seats within the lower portion of the stadium black in order to spell something out, such as ‘Heinz Field’, or maybe something else. But that won’t matter if they can’t meet the approval of the Zoning Board.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Zoning Board disapproved of the team’s plan for the signage, arguing that one of that size is prohibited under the law. Their contention is essentially that it amounts to an exterior, promotional sign. The Steelers will argue that it falls under the classification of an interior sign.
Mark Belko writes that the rules allow for no limitations on size when it comes to those within the confines of a premises, quoting a portion: “on the inside of the buildings or other structures, designed not to be seen from the exterior of such buildings or structures shall be permitted in any district with unlimited size and interior location”.
I’m not exactly a specialist in this matter, but I feel the Steelers have a pretty strong case, as the seats would not be able to be seen from the outside of the stadium except overhead via planes, helicopters, blimps, or zeppelins, if ever another should take flight in the region. But I’m not a legal expert, nor proficient in zoning laws and the precedents established in prior disputes.
It’s interesting that Belko notes the Steelers’ 20-year agreement for the naming rights of Heinz Field with the company obviously bearing the name Heinz is coming to a close. The team has no specific plans for what they will do with the sign and what it will actually read.
“To my knowledge, nothing has been confirmed on what we would put there. This is a preliminary step to appeal the decision and create a ‘sign’ in the seats”, Nick Sero is quoted as saying. Sero serves as the corporate communications manager for the team and the stadium. He added that there are “no set plans for what the exact design or wording”.
The truth is that the ‘seat sign’ would have more value with poor attendance, since it would be difficult to make out what it says if there are fans filling the seats, for obvious reasons. The more interesting story here is the possibility that Heinz Field could, in theory, come under a new sponsor in the near future, and thus receive a new name.