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Pgh. Media Starting to Expose Rooneygate

February 18, 2001 by Still Mill


Pittsburgh Media Starting to Expose Rooneygate Fraud (Feb. 18)

Last week it was Sam Ross of the Tribune Review. Today, Bob Smizik in the Post-Gazette.  Each wrote superb articles, pointing out the "business as usual" approach by a team that now has revenues pouring in quicker than the armored Brinks trucks can haul the cash to the bank.

It's refreshing to see the major Pittsburgh media conduct some real journalism and call a spade a spade, where as previously they've treated St. Rooney like one of the original 12 disciples.

Faithful readers here should have read my comments on this exact Rooneygate as long as two years ago. Back then, I was of the opinion that Rooney didn't necessarily need to wait until the stadium officially opened to spend some more money. My thinking was that, like the business executive who knows he's due for a promotion in 6 months or a year, Rooney could begin, in essence, borrowing on what were known, guaranteed revenue streams (PSLs, luxury boxes, concession licenses, etc.). Major corporations do this exact tactic every day, when they have deals signed in writing that don't begin generating revenues for several months or even years. These corporations realize that if necessary capital investments are required to support these deals, then they have to expend dollars now in order to make the deal do-able in the future. (Hypothetical example: Michelin inks a deal with Ford to make tires for Ford Explorers, since Firestone tires tear up like Kleenex. The deal commences in 2002. Say that Michelin's factories must be retrofitted in order to produce these new tires. Ergo, Michelin might spend $10M to retrofit in order to be able to conduct the $75M deal.)

But, ok --- Rooney, ever the miserly curmudgeon, refused to act in this manner. So, in effect, the '99 and '00 seasons were pissed away, in large part due to the myopia of Rooney.

But now Rooney has the revenues, clenched tightly in his grubby hands or socked away in a large vault. We know all about the $1,000 per seat PSLs, the licensing fees that Primanti Brothers and others had to pay, the season ticket purchases, and probably most importantly the massive luxury box revenues. Rooney is literally swimming in a sea of black ink from the enormous profits he's raking in, in addition to the sizeable profits he and his family have socked away the past 25 years.

Let's review the sequence of events that led us to Rooneygate:

  1. Rooney cries poor in '95, '96, and '97, claiming that his antiquated 3 Rivers Stadium cannot produce the revenues needed to compete in the modern-day free agency. To paraphrase Rooney, "If only <sob> I had a new stadium, I <sniff> could compete with these other teams in free agency and player retention."
  2. The Allegheny County voters vote down the stadium tax.
  3. Governor Ridge pulls a deft maneuver and gets state funding for both the Bucco and Stiller stadiums.
  4. Rooney gets new stadium, which opens this August.
  5. GM Kevin Colbert issues a teary-eyed edict a couple weeks ago, saying that the team has no plans whatsoever to do some aggressive spending in the free agent market. "Business as usual" is pretty much the standard motto.

This is outright fraud and deceit, and Rooney should be exposed for this Rooneygate by every media outlet in Pittsburgh. There's been a lot of clamor on the message board of this site on this very subject; some for Rooney, others against. The facts are clear: Rooney cried poor and got his new revenue-generating stadium, which was mostly funded by the taxpayers. Now, rather than spending some of those revenues like he claimed he would, he's selfishly and stubbornly hoarding it inside a large cash vault or underneath his mattress.

Rooney must be exposed for this fraud. Like the Watergate fiasco, to turn the other cheek & fail to report this public fraud would be a severe disservice to the taxpayers and voting public.

The Still Mill

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