2022 Offseason Questions: Who Cares What The Stadium Is Called?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 season is over, already eliminated from the postseason after suffering a 42-21 loss at the hands of Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. They just barely made the postseason with a 9-7-1 record and a little help from their friends.

This is an offseason of major change, with the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the possible retirement of general manager Kevin Colbert, and the decisions about the futures of many important players to be made, such as Joe Haden, Stephon Tuitt, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and others—some already decided, some not.

Aside from exploring their options at the quarterback position, the top global priority, once again, figures to be addressing the offensive line, which they did not do quite adequately enough a year ago. Dan Moore Jr. looks like he may have a future as a full-time starter, but Kendrick Green was clearly not ready. Chukwuma Okorafor was re-signed, but Trai Turner was not. James Daniels and Mason Cole were added in free agency.

These are the sorts of topics among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked. There is rarely a concrete answer, but this is your venue for exploring the topics we present through all their uncertainty.

Question: Who cares what the stadium is called?

You may or may not have noticed that I’ve been gone for the past week. Those who noticed may or may not have cared. But I’m back now, and so will the Steelers this fall in the same stadium they’ve been playing in for the past couple of decades, regardless of what it’s called.

It was Heinz Field for all that time. Now it’s Acrisure Stadium. Almost nobody had even heard of Acrisure a week ago, but a hell of a lot of people have heard of it now—which is why they were willing to cough up $150 million over the next 15 years.

And why Heinz was not. Because their brand name recognition is already astronomical, especially within the condiment market. How much can they really benefit financially as a company from having Heinz Field on the Steelers’ stadium? They made it clear that they didn’t think it was much when they described Acrisure as “a new partner willing to pay significantly more than we could justify”.

The reality is that $10 million per season for naming rights to the stadium of a flagship franchise in the most popular sport in the country is still an absolute bargain. Frankly, I was surprised that Heinz wasn’t willing to pay that, and I believe the blame lies solely on their doorstep for not being willing to step up to the plate and settle for what is still a bargain, as opposed to the greatest bargain in sports stadium name sponsorship.

The Steelers tried and failed to find a partner within the region similar to Heinz that was willing to pay fair-market value for the naming rights. Nobody was willing. So they went with Acrisure. And it wouldn’t have mattered who put that money forward. All it is is extra money in the Steelers’ coffers, maybe to pay another couple of front office executives or fill out the scouting department.

That’s the only reason fans should really care about whose name is on the stadium. It’s the only thing that actually affects the on-field product. If your issue is about the loss of a regional brand, then blame the brands, because they were given the chance. If your issue is that it’s just a bad name, then, well…yeah, it is, but who cares what the stadium is called? There’s football to be played.

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