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amusement tax

Dan Rooney

For the fictional television character, please see Dan Rooney (General Hospital)

Daniel M. Rooney (born July 20, 1932 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) is the owner and chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team in the National Football League (NFL). He is the son of team founder and former owner Art Rooney. Rooney was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000 for his great success as an owner. He is also credited for coming up with the "Rooney Rule," which requires NFL teams with head coaching and general manager vacancies to interview at least one minority candidate. Rooney is also co-founder of the largest Ireland-related fundraising organization, The Ireland Funds.

Career

In the Steelers organization, Rooney was appointed team president in 1975 and was given a great deal of power by his father. During his tenure, he has implemented a philosophy and management style that emphasizes open, practical and efficient management. The results have been obvious: since 1972, the Steelers have been AFC Central Division champions 14 times, AFC champions six times, and Super Bowl champions five times. Rooney became outright owner of the team in 1988, following the death of his father. Since 2003, Rooney has somewhat limited his control of the franchise, giving more power to son Art Rooney II.

Dan Rooney is a graduate of Duquesne University, majoring in accounting. He has been involved with the Steelers since 1960, originally working as director of personnel. While Rooney has generally avoided the spotlight, he has been a very active owner behind the scenes. Rooney helped to negotiate the collective bargaining agreement of 1982, which ended a strike that lasted half of the season. He is also one of the architects of the salary cap, which was implemented in 1993. He endorsed Barack Obama for president, stating, "When I think of Barack Obama’s America I have great hope. I support his candidacy and look forward to his Presidency. Rooney is the benefactor of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and Vice-Chairman of The American Ireland Fund. In 2008, Rooney became an honorary Commander of the British Empire.

Sale of the Steelers

On July 7, 2008, Dan and his son, team president Art Rooney II, announced that they were seeking to buy out Dan Rooney's brothers' shares in the team. The team initially said that some of Rooney's four brothers want to "get out of the NFL and focus their business efforts on their racetracks and other interests." This was report in The Wall Street Journal's Web site that the Steelers have "been secretly shopped to potential buyers amid continuing divisions among the five sons of the team's founder, Art Rooney Sr." This forced the Steelers to announce that prolonged, ongoing negotiations were under way concerning the "restructuring" of ownership, which could result in the sale of the franchise or a consolidation of control within the Rooney family. Discussions have supposedly been taking place for two years. The team said that chairman Dan Rooney and his son, president Art Rooney II, are trying to buy Dan's brothers' shares in order to "ensure compliance with NFL ownership policies." Dan and Art Rooney II, reportedly control 16 percent of the Steelers' shares but conduct most of the team's operations. Together, the Rooneys hold 80 percent of the company. The other 20 percent is owned by the McGinley Family, who are first cousins of the Rooneys.

The policies refer to The Rooney family's gambling operation. The family owns racetracks in New York and Florida, and the team said "these facilities have added forms of gaming that are inconsistent with NFL gambling policy." The racetracks that were owned by the Rooney's recently received slot machines. According to league policy, no NFL owner may own, directly or indirectly, any interests in a gambling casino. The NFL defines any facility with slot machines as a casino.

One of the Rooneys' interests called into question are the Yonkers Raceway, a harness racing track outside of New York City, which was purchased by the five Rooney brothers in 1972. The facility recently added video gaming machines, slot machines, and now has 5,300 such games, according to its Web site. The other interest is the Palm Beach Kennel Club, a Greyhound racetrack in West Palm Beach, Fla. The track was purchased by Art Rooney Sr. and his five sons bought the track in 1970. The facility advertises poker rooms on its Web site.

The Steelers' statement said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has asked former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue to "serve as a league representative in discussions with the family in order to reach an agreement on the separation of the gambling interests and on a restructuring of ownership if the team is sold." Any sale involving an NFL team is subject to a league review and must be approved by 75 percent of member clubs. The Steelers were valued at $929 million by Forbes Magazine in September 2007. However Rooney's brothers: Art Rooney Jr., Timothy Rooney, Patrick Rooney and John Rooney released a statement confirming that they retained Goldman, Sachs & Co. to put a price tag on the franchise, and analysts in New York placed its value between $800 million and $1.2 billion. Their shares are likely worth more than Dan Rooney and son Art II have offered in the initial buyout could raise even higher and still remain under the NFL's ceiling of $150 million in ownership debt. Each Rooney brother's stake is worth about $160 million, or less than Dan Rooney is believed to be offering. Also the brother who may determine if the majority of the team remains in the Rooney family is Art Rooney Jr., a Pro Football Hall of Fame nominee for his drafting skills who was fired by Dan Rooney in 1987.

The brothers likely would not have retained Goldman, Sachs if they felt they could soon work out a deal with Dan Rooney. The move also reflected on their fears that selling to Dan Rooney, coupled with the ensuing taxes, could leave their children and grandchildren with far less money than their shares are worth.

If any of the brothers were to die in the near future without a change in ownership, their heirs would face estate taxes of up to 45 percent of the shares' value. Dan has been working with Morgan Stanley and PNC Financial Services to attempt to bring in additional investors who might prop up his buyout attempt.

However Duquesne Capital Management chairman Stanley Druckenmiller apparently is interested in acquiring the team, according to the Wall Street Journal story. The Associated Press reported on July 8, 2008 that a deal could be reached within days to sell a majority interest in the Steelers to Druckenmiller, taking control of the franchise away from the Rooney family. However Dan Rooney, stopped short of guaranteeing that he and his son, would be able to stay at the helm of a team. He hinted that "many people," not just Druckenmiller, might be interested in the NFL franchise.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello stated that the NFL will continue to support the Rooneys in their efforts to retain control of the Steelers. The only thing that is known at this time is that the franchise will not relocate to another city, only that the ownership will either change or be consolidated.

Criticisms

In March 2007, Rooney released WR Cedrick Wilson after he was charged in a domestic dispute, but earlier that month did not discipline LB James Harrison for a similar incident, saying that the "cases were different," according to Bouchette & Fuoco of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rooney: "What [Harrison] was doing and how the incident occurred, what he was trying to do was really well worth it. He was doing something that was good, wanted to take his son to get baptized where he lived and things like that. [Harrison's girlfriend] said she didn't want to do it." After Rooney was criticized by the Women's Center and Shelter of Pittsburgh as a result of his comments.

In August 2004, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer Bill Steigerwald reported that PA Gov. Ed Rendell gave the Rooney's a fresh $5 million lifted from state taxpayers for a new, $12 million amphitheater. This was just 4 years after the state gave the Rooney's $158 million in public subsidies to build Heinz Field. Steigerwald wrote that: Since the Steelers don't own any taxable property, the Rooneys dodge city and county real estate taxes. Heinz Field, which the Steelers operate and profit from in myriad ways, is owned by taxpayers through the Sports and Exhibition Authority. The team offices, practice field and workout facilities are leased from UPMC's tax-exempt Sports Performance Complex. Steelers players pay payroll and occupation taxes like everyone else. Fans pay the 5 percent city amusement tax on each ticket. But the Steelers - like a few other profit-making corporations - aren't exempt from paying both a city mercantile tax (3 mills on concessions, etc.) and a city business privilege tax (6 mills on gross receipts). Tax officials say these taxes are highly complicated to compute - and the final amounts the Steelers pay are top secret.

References

External links

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