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Steelers

Change in plans could cost Steelers $10M

| Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2007

The Steelers are working on alternative ideas for development on the North Shore now that they have scrapped plans for a proposed amphitheater and a companion entertainment complex adjacent to Heinz Field.

But they may have to seek other sources for state funding to replace the $10 million in infrastructure improvements originally sought for the project, Gov. Ed Rendell said Monday.

The team and Columbus-based developer Continental Real Estate Cos. had been working with Cordish Co. of Baltimore to develop the project that was to be known as North Shore Live!

As envisioned, the amphitheater -- topped by an open, glass roof -- would have been ringed by night clubs and other entertainment-themed outlets, and built on vacant land serving as the Gold parking lot near Heinz Field.

In October, the Steelers said they were withdrawing an application for the $10 million in funding under a state Infrastructure and Facilities Improvement Program, now that those plans have changed.

Mark Hart, the team's director of business, said that PSSI Stadium Corp., the company that operates Heinz Field, advised the Pittsburgh Stadium Authority and the state that discussions are under way with other developers for the site.

The Stadium Authority owns the land between Heinz Field and PNC Park, and Continental was selected by the Pirates and Steelers to be the master developer there.

"We have withdrawn the original request for funding under the IFIP program as we re-evaluate our plans for developing an entertainment venue on the North Shore adjacent to Heinz Field," said Barry Ford, president of development at Continental, in a statement Monday.

"We are currently working with HOK (the architect for Heinz Field) and PSSI Stadium Corp. to develop an outline for a year-round multipurpose entertainment facility.

"We are pleased with our progress to date and intend to present a new version of our plan by year's end," Ford said.

When asked about the project funds yesterday, Rendell said, "... The grantee has a certain amount of time to use it or lose it."

So far, neither the team nor Continental have asked to use the funds for an alternative project, Rendell said.

If they don't, he said, "It will be taken back and used for other projects."

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