City sets promotion campaign
After most Pittsburgh Steelers road games, fans gather around the team's bus before it heads home.
"We had an assistant coach who wasn't from Pittsburgh, and after one game in Houston several years ago we got on the bus and he said, 'Isn't it great that so many fans travel with the team?'" said Steelers Vice President Art Rooney II. "I had to tell him, while it was true some people may be traveling to the road games, most of them were probably ex-Pittsburghers."
While Sunday's game is the next step in the Steelers' quest for another Super Bowl, the region's political and business leaders are looking at the game as the first step for selling a re-invented Pittsburgh to both former residents and potential new residents. Rooney, Allegheny County Executive Jim Roddey and Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy unveiled plans yesterday to use this weekend's game as a nationwide marketing plan for Pittsburgh.
Under the slogan "New Steelers, new stadiums, new Pittsburgh," the city's government leaders have been working with 54 organizations for the "Playoff Project," a marketing campaign that will leverage national media attention being placed on Pittsburgh for the NFL playoffs. In addition to a weekend-long schedule of Pittsburgh-promoting events in the city, the Pittsburgh Regional Champions will sponsor Steelers parties in 11 U.S. cities during Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens.
This weekend's events linked to the Playoff Project, a marketing campaign to Sunday's Steelers playoff game.
Roddey noted that the city will get free exposure during a broadcast that is charging advertisers $500,000 for 30 seconds of air time.
"We have a wonderful story to tell -- all you have to do is look at PNC Park, the new convention center, the beautiful skyline, and you'll recognize we have made the transition from an industrial city to a city of technology, a city of colleges and universities, a city of health care," Roddey said.
While it's difficult to place a dollar value on the media exposure on this weekend's game, city tourism officials estimate a direct economic impact of $10 million to $11 million for each playoff game played in Pittsburgh. That includes amusement and parking taxes, as well as money spent at hotels, restaurants and travel.
Joseph Kane, general manager of the Westin Convention Center Hotel, Downtown, said the playoffs could bump hotel occupancy in the city up by as much as 10 percent for January. The Westin is sold out Saturday night; on a normal Saturday night in January, Kane said, the hotel would be 35 percent full.
"We really need this right now," Kane said. "It's not just Saturday night. You have press in days beforehand. And when the Steelers win, we'll sell out pretty quickly for the next week."
Besides Sunday's game, the Playoff Project is planning a variety of events throughout the weekend, starting with a Market Square pep rally at noon on Friday.