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Pay like an Eagle

| Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

If the Philadelphia Eagles can expand and upgrade Lincoln Financial Field without putting taxpayers on the hook, why do the Pittsburgh Steelers insist that a publicly funded agency must cover most of the cost to expand and upgrade Heinz Field?

That funding discrepancy between the two NFL stadium expansion projects should incense local taxpayers. They're caught in the middle of the court fight between the Steelers and the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority (SEA) over who will pay for 3,000 additional seats, a second video scoreboard and other upgrades at Heinz Field.

The Steelers maintain that their Heinz Field lease requires the SEA to pay about $29 million of the renovations' $39.2 million cost, which, if bonds are required, could saddle the public with millions of dollars and many years of additional debt. The SEA disagrees. And the litigation only delays the project and increases its costs.

Yet there's no such time-consuming, money-wasting wrangling over the Eagles' similar, just-announced stadium renovation project. Privately financed, with financing assistance from the NFL, it will be completed before the Eagles' 2014 season begins — and won't add to taxpayers' burdens.

Had the Steelers chosen to pay for this expansion themselves — and make no mistake, this very profitable franchise has the financial wherewithal to do just that — the upgrades would be well on their way to being completed, the franchise well on its way to recouping its costs and the public would not be fretting about yet another dive into its pocketbook.

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