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Steelers to explore reducing cost of preseason tickets

| Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014, 5:48 p.m.

The Steelers could reduce exhibition game ticket prices as early as next season, team president Art Rooney II said Wednesday.

At the NFL owners meetings in Dallas last month, a group of owners discussed lowering preseason game prices. Season-ticket holders have complained for years about having to pay full price for August games played mostly by backups or players who soon will be cut. The Steelers traditionally price all tickets the same, regardless if they are for regular-season or preseason games.

“I can't tell you that any decisions have been made yet, but we are looking at possibly having a different price on preseason tickets versus other games,” Rooney said during a conference call with season ticket holders. “Whether that goes into effect for 2014 or not, I can't promise you, but I can promise you it's something we are looking at.

“We understand the fans' perception of the value of the preseason games.”

One proposed method would be to price games by opponent, as do some MLB teams, including the Pirates.

Another method would be to reduce the price of exhibition game tickets but price regular-season games the same.

Some owners predicted last month that teams would experiment with prices over the next few seasons to see what works best.

During the 30-minute conference call, Rooney also said he wants safety Troy Polamalu “to retire a Steeler,” just as he wants quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to do.

Polamalu is scheduled to make $8.25 million in 2014 in the final season of his contract, with a salary cap charge of $10,887,500.

“How we structure or restructure (Polamalu's contract) is something we will look at in the next few months,” Rooney said. “There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle, but I certainly expect Troy will be one of the pieces to that puzzle. ... He's obviously been one of the great Steelers of all time.”

Polamalu, who made the Pro Bowl this season, said last month the Steelers hadn't discussed his future.

Rooney also said:

• The Steelers will try to re-sign some of their 21 unrestricted free agents, including outside linebacker Jason Worilds, but that the “salary cap is a jigsaw puzzle, and a lot of pieces to fit together. Every year it's a challenge.”

• Coaches and scouts will have more analytical information next season, so “we'll have the same competitive edge that other teams are enjoying.” He said the league is working on a system that would make more analytical information available to all teams.

• He believes this will be the year running back Jerome Bettis makes the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

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