Would you like to own a share in the Pittsburgh Steelers? Well, you might be in luck, provided that you’re rather well-to-do, because shares will shortly be available as the organization begins the process of seeking new investors to fill in the gap left by former minority owner David Tepper.
Tepper, an area native who made his fortune in hedge funds and has a School of Business named after him at his alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University, sought to purchase and succeeded in purchasing the Carolina Panthers, making him the second former Steelers minority owner to purchase an NFL franchise. The first was the couple of Jimmy and Dee Haslam, the current primary owners of the Cleveland Browns.
Yesterday, Steelers President Art Rooney II spoke to Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, telling the veteran reporter that Tepper’s share, roughly five percent, “remains in limbo” (Rutter’s words). “We’re going to wind up with a couple new shareholders”, Rooney said.
Pittsburgh greatly expanded its ownership group in 2009 in order to comply with new NFL rules regarding who can own teams. This resulted in a number of members of the Rooney family—many of Dan Rooney’s siblings—selling their shares to outsiders.
Tepper was one of those initial investors who came in, as were the Haslams. Other notable members of that new ownership group include, in case you’ve forgotten, former Steelers Hall of Fame wide receiver John Stallworth. Thomas Tull is among the other more high-profile and outspoken investors.
Another change was necessitated in the wake of the death of Dan Rooney. His son, currently president Art II, bought the bulk of his shares, enough to continue to qualify him as the principle owner of the franchise and keeping that distinction within the Rooney family, where it has been since its founding in 1933 by The Chief, Art Rooney.
Rooney said that they are “still in the process of finalizing” the proceedings of passing on Tull’s shares to new investors. “Probably in the next few months we’ll get everything cleaned up on that end”.
His comments indicate that they do not expect one single investor to pick up the entirety of the shares that Tepper is leaving on the table. The ownership group, including Rooney, currently consists of 18 individuals or investment groups.
The Steelers were recently evaluated by Forbes as the 30th-most-wealthy franchise in all of sports round the world, estimated to be worth nearly $2.6 billion and an operating income of $85 million. That ranked just 15th among NFL franchises, though that also is an indication of the NFL’s dominance. The Dallas Cowboys, evaluated at an estimated $5 billion, came in first.