According to the Steelers and VisitPittsburgh, the home AFC championship game should bring in $20 million to the city on Sunday. That's on top of the $18 million for last week's game.
And how much extra are these games adding to the drink tax coffers alone? I'm going to make an educated guess and say that if you take the drink tax profits from Steelers Sundays, that alone will easily land you $1 Million per year.
The North Shore Connector is costing the county 3.33% of its total cost - or about $15 million. Even if it balloons to a $600 million project, that's still less than $20 million in local funds.
Don't you think a new subway line is worth 1 home Steelers championship game?
I can go over the Port Authority spiel that this paves the way for future T lines. Or that this will add yet another fringe parking area alleviating traffic and parking woes downtown. Or that this will encourage more development on the North Side which needs some help right about now.
But instead I'll tell you why I think it's not a horrible idea.
When out-of-towners or former Pittsburghers come back to visit in droves, it's for one of two things. The holidays and Steelers games.
Theoretically, we want to give these people a good impression. We want them to think their city is improving. We want them to go back to where they live and say good things about Pittsburgh. We want them to tell their friends, so that when they get a job offer and they're deciding between Houston, Texas and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, they remember that they heard Pittsburgh was sweet. They choose Pittsburgh.
How do we impress these people? We give them slick public transportation where they're going to use it. To the Steelers game and to the airport. Assuming this risky bet works, then those people will get up and move here. Then we'll have some money in our pockets and we can do more practical less flashy things like actually get people between Oakland and Downtown.
And all for less than $20 million.
But the most important thing to realize is that this is just a piece of the puzzle. If we actually want a world-class transportation system (which we do, right?), then this is a necessary piece of that puzzle. Might as well build it first if we have the money and it can attract and impress some people. We just can't stop here. I don't care if it takes another 50-100 years. (I have faith that Pittsburgh and this country will still be around then.) But we need to keep building and planning and thinking big and we will get there.