The selling of the Steelers

| Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wanna buy the Steelers?

For a cool billion dollars, the storied franchise could be yours.

The team announced yesterday that prolonged, ongoing negotiations are under way concerning the "restructuring" of ownership, which could result in the sale of the franchise or a consolidation of control within the Rooney family.

The team said that chairman Dan Rooney and his son, president Art Rooney II, are trying to buy Dan's brothers' shares in order to "ensure compliance with NFL ownership policies."

Discussions have been taking place for two years, the team said in a statement.

Dan Rooney said he intends to "do everything possible to work out a solution to ensure my father's legacy of keeping the Steelers and the Rooney family in Pittsburgh for at least another 75 years."

Shortly after the announcement, the Wall Street Journal posted a story on its Web site that said the Steelers franchise has been "secretly shopped to potential buyers amid continuing divisions among the five sons of the team's founder, Art Rooney Sr."

Duquesne Capital Management chairman Stanley Druckenmiller apparently is interested in acquiring the team, according to the Wall Street Journal story.

The Steelers had no comment other than what was released in their statement, which said Dan Rooney wants to "stay in the football business" while some of his four brothers want to "get out of the NFL and focus their business efforts on their racetracks and other interests."

Dan Rooney's brothers -- Art Jr., Timothy, Patrick and John -- have ownership interest in the Steelers. The McGinley family has a minority interest in the team. The Rooney family owns racetracks in New York and Florida, and the team said "these facilities have added forms of gaming that are inconsistent with NFL gambling policy."

According to league policy, no NFL owner may own, directly or indirectly, any interests in a gambling casino. The NFL defines any facility with slot machines as a casino.

Forbes magazine valued the Steelers at $929 million in September.

Marc Ganis, president of Sportscorp Limited, envisions an eventual resolution of the Steelers' ownership issue that results in "Dan Rooney and Art Rooney II ultimately owning the Steelers, that part of the lineage from Art Rooney Sr. still in control."

Rovell said the reported shopping of the team could be an example of the Rooneys doing their "due diligence" while trying to resolve their problems.

"If one family member is trying to buy out another family member, they can put it out there on the market and find out how much people think it's worth and then determine a better value for each member of the Rooney family," he said.

The Rooneys' interests

Yonkers Raceway

What: Harness racing track outside New York City

Ownership: Dan Rooney and his four brothers -- Arthur Jr., Patrick, John and Timothy -- bought the track for $52 million in 1972.

Of note: The facility recently added video gaming machines -- slot machines -- and now has 5,300 such games, according to its Web site.

Palm Beach Kennel Club

What: Greyhound racetrack in West Palm Beach, Fla.

Ownership: Art Rooney Sr. and his five sons bought the track in 1970.

Of note: The facility advertises poker rooms on its Web site.

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