Saturday, December 1, 2012

Saturday Must-Reads: Pittsburgh Back from Great Recession; Pwned by Steelers Incorporated

A serendipitous time for two absolute must-read newspaper articles. Educate yourselves:

Firstly, the Pittsburgh metropolitan region has been discovered by a reputable research institution to be one of just three U.S. metro regions to have recovered from the international recession. Welcome, heartening news. Let's hope some of that aggregate superiority trickles all the way down and around.

Many U.S. metro regions have not yet reached the milestone of recovery, especially in light of the global trend -- a national concern.

A sobering prospect since even mighty Pittsburgh's status as leader is in "structural" financial peril...

"Pittsburgh has turned the corner and is the national example of how to grow jobs and innovate. ... But there is still much more work to be done to ensure that Pittsburgh grows even more jobs and remains America's 'most livable' city for years to come," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said in a statement. (P-G, Joe Smydo)

"More work to be done" includes the urban core accounting for pensions and health benefits, as well as infrastructure and equipment needs. Growth would have to be exponential in the absence of new revenue.

There is also an astute short treatise from Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, and special emphasis chosen by Mayor Rogero of Knoxville, TN. All contextual gemstones.


steelersfanmx @ Steelers Fever
Now that you're warmed up.. switch to Camera 2, the Tribune-Review, and have the camera pan to our fresh new historic North Shore:

The 30-year lease on the stadium, which opened in 2001 and is owned by the taxpayer-funded Sports & Exhibition Authority, called for $25 million payments every 10 years if tickets, payroll and other sales failed to increase annual tax revenue significantly from a baseline set in the late 1990s. A 1999 state law requires the Budget Office to examine team tax receipts and apply a multiplier to determine if those receipts exceed $25 million.
The review absolves the team of making a rent payment on top of the 5 percent ticket surcharge and 15 percent tax it pays to the SEA on revenue from non-sporting events at the stadium. (Trib, Jeremy Boren)

This bonus subsidy, negotiated away in principle a decade ago, is an entirely new and separate issue from that of the Steelers' ongoing lawsuit to get municipal authorities to pay for most of a major expansion at Heinz Field.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has said he supports the expansion and wants to find a way for the public to subsidize at least some of it. A spokeswoman said he was not available to discuss the tax credits. (Tribid)

Really? That seems like it would be a less popular position than a more direct, straight-line defense of taxpayers. Unless maybe it can be tied in with lower ticket prices, or ticket access hurdles.... a thought.

At any rate, this generous parlay only adds more kindling to the recent history of Steelers-City development relations which has been combustable and in steady supply.

To this latest chapter Boren introduces the concept of "outrageous multipliers" to meet the trigger for the bonus subsidy, and a timely recollection of the era of State Rep. Don Walko. Entire contents near-legendary quality. Read read read read read.


  1. The important thing to remember is that we are talking about a multi-county region, not the city. "Recovery" for Greater Pittsburgh is coming from Cranberry, Murraysville, Robinson, Don't know how true the "recovery" song will ring to folks in a Brighton Heights, let alone Knoxville. I just wonder how much cognitive dissonance they'll be when the mayor tries to use this line on direct mailings, some of which I'm sure will poetically wind up in the mail slots of vacant houses.

  2. Squall Line - Are we just assuming that Cranberry, Murraysville, and Robinson dwarf the rate of recovery of Pittsburgh proper? And aside from direct GDP and job number contributions, how about second-order effects of the urban core at least pulling its weight? I think when explaining this it's far more important to bear in mind the muni area's diversified economy, from health sciences to energy.

    No question, Ravenstahl campaign direct mail and TV ads will be strong and stronger still because of this -- but so what, they were already bound to be really dynamite.

  3. "Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald declined to comment. Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills, and House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, did not return calls."

    Should we argue that the multiplier the state used was bogus and try to save $25 million? What could the SEA do with that? Pay down more Three Rivers Stadium debt or what?

  4. Wow. Taxpayers built USAir an airport they wouldn't pay for, and now it looks like they've built the Stealers a stadium they don't want to pay for. Trend?