Steelers, developers ask for another extension on North Shore complex

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The Steelers and a Columbus developer are seeking yet another extension in completing part of a proposed $12 million year-round entertainment complex to be built next to Heinz Field.

Continental Real Estate Cos. and the team have asked the city's Stadium Authority for up to three more years to complete aesthetic-related elements of the project, state Rep. Jake Wheatley, an authority board member, said yesterday.

The Steelers and the developer still intend to have construction of the physical venue itself completed by May 1, 2010, so that concerts and other events can be held, Continental Chairman Frank Kass said. But they want more time to finish a "fairly extravagant exterior courtyard" that is part of the project, he said.

The authority board likely will take up the request later this month.

In March, the board approved requests by Continental to push back the construction start dates for a Hyatt Place hotel project and the entertainment complex until June 1 and Aug. 1, respectively. Under its agreement with the authority, which controls the land between Heinz Field and PNC Park, both were to have started in April. The hotel construction is now under way.

In granting the extensions, the board expressed frustration with the delays. An on-again, off-again amphitheater project has been part of the plans for the North Shore for years but has yet to get off the ground.

Mr. Kass said a delay in finishing the courtyard would not affect the concert venue itself, which will be "100 percent up and running" by next May, with parking, concessions and an indoor-outdoor stage.

"There's no difference in the amphitheater at all. There's no difference in the parking. There's no difference in any part of the facility," he said.

Continental and the Steelers asked for the delay in completing the courtyard because state funding for the project was cut from $4 million to $2.5 million, Mr. Kass said.

While expressing frustration with delays, Mr. Wheatley said he likely will support the extension. "If the Steelers believe with the additional time, they can meet these commitments, what's the point of stopping now?" he asked.

Another authority board member, city Councilwoman Darlene Harris, said she wants to know all the circumstances surrounding the request before deciding whether to support it.


Mark Belko can be reached at mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.


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