A Super Bowl in Pittsburgh? Steelers interested in hosting 2023 title game at Heinz Field


The year 2023 could prove to be "Super" for Pittsburgh.

The Steelers have taken the first step to bring the Super Bowl — the 57th edition at the home of 57 Varieties? — to Heinz Field.

The team submitted an application at the NFL owners' meetings in May to host the championship game in February 2023.

Steelers executives met with local political and civic leaders Wednesday at Heinz Field, the latest in a series of conversations aimed at landing the right to host what would be the second outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl.

"We met this morning with local community leaders to provide an update on formally submitting our application to the NFL to bid for Super Bowl LVII," Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a statement. "The application is an early step in the bidding process, and we will continue to meet with representatives of the Mayor's Office, County Executive's Office, VisitPittsburgh, Allegheny Conference as well as other community leaders to review the requirements."

The application is far from a formal bid. The NFL doesn't anticipate soliciting those until 2018, league spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

The NFL will have played six Super Bowls in northern cities after the 2018 game in Minneapolis. Only one has been played outdoors: Super Bowl XLVIII in February 2014 in East Rutherford, N.J.

The last Super Bowl was staged in Glendale, Ariz. The host committee estimated the game's total economic impact at $719.4 million, with an estimated 121,775 visitors.

The 2015 Pro Bowl also was held in Glendale the week before the Super Bowl. There is no indication the 2023 Pro Bowl would be held in Pittsburgh if the Steelers are awarded the Super Bowl.

The franchise has formed an advisory board tasked with researching similar regions that have hosted the Super Bowl.

"2023 seems like a long way off, but the NFL is already in the process of looking for the cities out to that time frame," said Pittsburgh mayor Bill Peduto.

The league has awarded the next three Super Bowls: to Santa Clara, Calif.; Houston and Minneapolis. The finalists to host the 2019 and 2020 games also have been announced. NFL owners will vote to award those games in May.

The Steelers are targeting spring 2018 for submitting their formal bid. The league anticipates a vote to finalize the site in 2019.

The NFL said there are no rigid criteria for determining sites, but benchmarks have been established over the years.

For instance:

• Only one Super Bowl — the 26th — was played at a venue that sat fewer than 67,000 fans. Heinz Field's seating capacity will increase to about 68,400 in time for this season.

• The league prefers at least 30,000 hotel rooms be within "driving distance" of the stadium, McCarthy said without elaborating. There are 25,578 hotel rooms in Pittsburgh's seven-county metropolitan area, and another 6,007 rooms are in the pipeline, according to PKF Hospitality Research.

Pittsburgh has hosted several AFC championship games, but the media and security crunch of a Super Bowl — an immense event with global interest — is on a level akin to the G-20 world economic summit, which was held here in 2009.

"The prospect of hosting that type of an event would certainly put Pittsburgh in the national and international spotlight once again," said Jason Fulvi, VisitPittsburgh's executive vice president. "It would be an amazing coup for the region without a doubt."

Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald tempered enthusiasm, saying, "There will be costs."

"Public safety costs, public infrastructure costs, those types of things. If the costs totally outweigh any benefit, that would be something that would be very difficult for the community to support," he said.

He said Pittsburgh has reaped unquantifiable public-relations benefits from events such as the National Hockey League's Winter Classic, Major League Baseball's All-Star Game and the G-20.

"We continue to see economic benefits from the G-20 because of the attention the city got," he said.

Pittsburgh's chances of scoring a Super Bowl are excellent, Fitzgerald said. McCarthy acknowledged the Rooney family's stature in the NFL — and the Steelers' status as a flagship franchise — "would be a factor" in the owners' decision.

"The Steelers themselves feel very confident that if they put the application in and, all working together with the business community, with the city and with the county, that we have a good chance," Fitzgerald said. "Obviously the Rooneys' reputation within the NFL will carry a lot of weight."