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Pittsburgh Steelers likely to be sold to Dan Rooney

PITTSBURGH -- Steelers chairman Dan Rooney and his son will likely buy a controlling interest in the team from Rooney's four brothers.

"It's not really (that) a deal has been reached, but we're coming along very well," Art Rooney Jr., one of the brothers, said Saturday.

"You're dealing with five people who are very private. There are a lot of ideas and nuances. We're moving in the right direction after all," he said. "There's still things that have to be worked out, but it's headed that way."

Dan Rooney was the only person interested in buying the team, which the brothers want to see remain in the family, according to Art Rooney Jr.

"That was a pretty big factor in this whole thing," he said.

Dan Rooney declined to comment on Saturday. A message left with his son, team president Art Rooney II, was not immediately returned.

Art Rooney Jr. would not confirm that he and brothers Patrick, Timothy and John Rooney would get a reported $750 million after business debt is subtracted. He was reluctant to name a price, saying it could change. The team has been estimated to be worth as much as $1.2 billion.

Each brother owns 16 percent of the team, adding up to 80 percent, with another Pittsburgh family, the McGinleys, owning 20 percent. Those shares are not being sold. The Rooneys' father, Hall of Famer Art Rooney Sr., bought the franchise in 1933 for $2,500.

At least three of the five Rooney brothers want to sell their equal shares in the team partly to avoid costly future inheritance taxes for their children and grandchildren.

"We're all hanging our hats that we get it done before the change in the administration," which could lead to higher taxes, Art Rooney Jr. said.

Another factor is the NFL rules that restrict owners' involvement in gambling enterprises, and requires that one person own at least 30 percent of a team. Some of the brothers own shares of racetracks that offer casino gaming.

The team was sold in 1940 to Boston investor Alexis Thompson, but Art Rooney Sr. regained control of the team in less than a year.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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