Trial to determine who pays for Heinz Field expansion postponed until May

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A judge is giving the Pittsburgh Steelers and their landlord more time to huddle in an effort to finalize a deal to cover the cost of adding 3,000 seats at Heinz Field.

At the request of the team, Allegheny County Common Pleas Senior Judge Joseph James has postponed until May 19 a trial that was scheduled to start Monday.

In a motion requesting the postponement, PSSI Stadium LLC, an affiliate of the Steelers, said that many of the issues surrounding the proposed $30 million expansion have been resolved.

“While a finalized and mutual resolution has not been reached, PSSI continues to be optimistic for such a resolution and has requested that court-supervised settlement discussions reconvene,” it stated.

The Steelers and the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority have been embroiled in a dispute for more than a year over who will pay how much to add the 3,000 seats to the south end zone. They have been negotiating under the supervision of Common Pleas Judge Robert J. Colville. Those talks are expected to resume before the end of the month.

Team officials declined comment today. Walter DeForest, the SEA’s attorney, said, “All I can say is that we’re still talking.”

The Steelers claim the SEA is responsible for paying two thirds of the cost for the expansion under a section of the Heinz Field lease related to designation expansions. The SEA contends that the team first must show that similar modifications have been made to at least half of all other NFL stadiums with at least a quarter of the cost being paid by government.

The dispute ended up in court after a deal to finance the expansion through ticket and parking surcharges collapsed.

Mark Belko: or 412-263-1262.

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