The Rooney family has been the majority owners and operators of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania since the formation of the franchise in 1933. Art Rooney was the founder and owner of the team until his death in 1988; ownership of the team was then transferred to Art's oldest son, Dan Rooney. In the recent years more of the front office operations have been passed down by Dan Rooney to his son and team president, Art Rooney II.
The more influential family members included:
- Art Rooney, Team Founder
- Dan Rooney, Art's oldest son, current team Chairman
- Art Rooney II, Dan's son, current team President
The Rooneys have been credited for much of the team's success. The fundamental approach of the Rooneys to managing the Steelers has been through patience and consistency, both of which the ownership is continuously given notoriety for. As proof of the team's stability, there have been only three head coaches employed since 1969, by far the fewest number of any team in that time frame. Dan Rooney has made it a requirement for any team interviewing for a new head coach to interview a minority candidate, known as the "Rooney Rule".
In July 2008 the Rooney family went public with the plan to reorganize the ownership structure of the franchise. Each of the five Rooney brothers owns 16% of the team, combining for 80%, while another related family, the McGinelys, owns 20%. Dan Rooney, chairman, stated that his four brothers are moving towards other non-football-related business ventures and he is in talks with them to buy out their shares. However, the other four brothers believe Dan undervalued their shares, and hired Goldman Sachs to give them an estimate on the team. The estimate by Goldman Sachs valued the team between $800 million and $1.2 billion. One potential buyer has been identified, Stanley Druckenmiller, the Pittsburgh billionaire who is the chairman of Duquesne Capital Management and a former money manager for George Soros. Talks to restructure the ownership have been going on for two years to comply with NFL ownership policies and ensure ownership and operation under the Rooney family. The four brothers' ventures with family race tracks that allow slot machines violate NFL rules of ownership with revenue from gambling enterprises. The ownership structure also violated the NFL rule stating that at least one individual must own 30% of the team to be principal owner, and no individual owns at least 30% of the team. The team does not expect the negotiations to have any effect on the players or fans.
NFL owners unanimously approved the restructuring of ownership on December 17, 2008, with Dan & Art II getting the mandated 30% stake. Meanwhile, brothers Timothy and Patrick (the ones who own race tracks with slot machines, which violate NFL ownership rules) selling their shares outright, while Art Jr., John, and the McGinley family selling some shares but retaining smaller ownership roles, with the brothers reducing their shares from 16% to 6% and the McGinley family reducing their shares from 20% to 10%. Also coming on as partners are Pilot Corporation & Pilot Travel Centers president Jim Haslam III (son of founder Jim Haslam Jr. and brother of Tennessee governor Bill Haslam), Legendary Pictures president & CEO Thomas Tull, and the Paul family of Pittsburgh & Los Angeles (who are primarily involved with Pittsburgh-based Ampco Pittsburgh Corporation and serve on numerous boards, including UPMC and Pitt), each getting a 16% stake in the team. Dan Rooney mentioned he has no ill will towards Druckenmiller, mentioning he's a great Steelers fan and wishes he remains one.
The Steelers later announced on March 23, 2009, that they added three more investors to the team, the most notable of which is Hall of Fame wide receiver John Stallworth. The other two investors added were GTCR chairman Bruce V. Rauner and the Varischetti family of Brockway, Pennsylvania, which owns several nursing homes and a commercial real estate business. The deal to add all six new investors is expected to be finalized in May 2009.
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