Sale of Steelers finalized

| Friday, Sept. 25, 2009

What had been inevitable, perhaps for years, became official Thursday when the Steelers completed restructuring their ownership.

The team announced the sale of stock from several members of the Rooney and McGinley families to team president Art Rooney II and chairman emeritus Dan Rooney. It also added four more minority owners: David Sams, chief operating officer of Blizzard Entertainment Inc., David Tepper, a Peabody High graduate and founder of a billion-dollar hedge fund investment firm, retired coal executive Benjamin Statler and Los Angeles investment banker Mike Wilkins.

The sale -- which took more than a year to finalize -- gives control of the only organization to win six Super Bowls to Rooney II, the son of Dan Rooney and the grandson of Steelers founder Art Rooney.

Five of Art Rooney's sons - Dan, Art. Jr., Tim, Pat and John -- had owned 16 percent of the team and the McGinley family had a 10 percent share of ownership.

Dan and Art Rooney II bought enough shares from the Rooney and McGinley families to satisfy an NFL requirement that principal owners must control at least 30 percent of the team.

The sale also completed the separation of the Steelers from the Rooney's gaming interests, something the NFL had pushed the family to do for years.

Art Jr. and John Rooney retained small stakes in the team. Pat Rooney, through his estate planning, passed down some of his shares to his seven children.

"I'm satisfied," Pat Rooney said of the sale last night from his home in Hellerstown, Pa. "I'm not pleased I'm going to be out of it. Those are two different things. It was the proper thing to do and a necessary thing to do from a business standpoint as well as a personal standpoint."

Pat Rooney said the size of the Rooneys - he has 20 grandchildren in addition to his seven children - made it necessary for control of the Steelers to be consolidated for the team to stay under the family's control.

"There is absolutely no way that this could have gone into the next generation with all of the people involved," Pat Rooney said. "It would have been impossible to handle regardless of who was sitting in the chair of the Pittsburgh Steelers."

Though terms of the agreement were not released, family members said last year that the value of the Steelers had been pegged at around $750 million after debt had been subtracted.

Stanley Druckenmiller, a billionaire hedge fund manager with strong Pittsburgh ties, had made a cash tender of $840 million last year. The proposal came after Art, Tim, Pat and John Rooney considered selling their shares in the team because of the NFL mandate and concerns over saddling their heirs with a burdensome estate tax.

Druckenmiller withdrew his offer last September when the brothers were conflicted about selling their share to an outside owner.

"I am very happy for the family," Druckenmiller said yesterday. "When they came to me a year and a half ago, it is hard to describe the anxiety the brother's were having to endure given the difficult situation. The fact that they have been able to pull together resulting in an outcome that is satisfactory to all parties is a tremendous achievement and a testament to the strength of the family."

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.


Show commenting policy