Restructuring of Steelers ownership headed in the 'right direction'

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney is finalizing his group of investors, a process that is delaying completion of the franchise's ownership restructuring.

Rooney's four brothers have agreed upon terms of the sale, in which two will sell their 16 percent stakes in the team and the other two, Art Jr. and John, will sell eight percent each to Dan Rooney and son Art Rooney II, the team president. The family of Jack McGinley, which owns 20 percent of the 76-year-old club, will also sell some shares.

Dan Rooney said a Monday meeting of the Steelers' stockholders "was a step in the right direction. (But) by no means is this finished, we're still doing that."

The restructuring was mandated by the NFL so the Rooneys would comply with league rules that the principal owner own at least 30 percent of the club. Previously, Dan Rooney -- although he has run the team since the 1970s -- owned only the same 16 percent stake as his brothers.

The NFL also bars owners from being involved in racing and gambling concerns, even though Steelers founder Art Rooney Sr. once made much of the family fortune as a gambler. The two Rooney brothers who are selling their full shares, Pat and Tim, are selling their stakes to Dan Rooney because they operate race tracks in Florida and New York.

The five Rooney brothers each acquired their 16 percent stakes in the five-time Super Bowl champions when Art Rooney Sr. died in 1988.

Dan Rooney remains hopeful the restructuring still can be approved by the NFL finance committee next Monday, a step that is needed before league owners can approved it. The next owners meeting is Dec. 17 and, when they do vote, 24 of the 32 owners must approve the transaction.

Before that happens, the league also must sign off on Rooney's investors.

"There's a lot of things we have to do," Dan Rooney said Monday following a Steelers stockholders meeting involving four of the five brothers. "We have to do that (complete the investor group). We also have the league to deal with. We have to present the investors, they have to do research on people and things like that. That's why it's hard to say (when the sale will be completed)."

Steelers fan Stanley Druckenmiller, a billionaire investor, attempted to buy a majority interest in the team earlier this year but was turned down by the Rooney brothers. By rejecting Druckenmiller's offer, the brothers cleared the path for Dan Rooney to remain in charge, just as the NFL strongly suggested it wanted during an August meeting involving the Rooney brothers and Commissioner Roger Goodell.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the franchise has been valued by the brothers at $800 million, meaning each one-percent of the team will be worth $8 million. The newspaper reported that Dan Rooney will have 10 years to pay his brothers.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.

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