The Rooney family has been the majority owners and operators of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania since the formation of the franchise in 1933. Art Rooney was the founder and owner of the team until his death in 1988. Following his death, ownership of the franchise transferred to Art and his wife Kathleen McNulty Rooney's oldest son, Dan Rooney, a former United States Ambassador to Ireland. In recent years, front office operations have passed from Dan Rooney to his son and current team president, Art Rooney II.
The family members, who have had the most influence in the Steelers organization are:
The Rooneys have been credited for much of the team's success. The fundamental approach of the Rooneys to managing the franchise has largely been through patience and consistency, both of which the ownership is renowned for. An example of the team's stability is that there have been only three head coaches employed since 1969, the fewest number of any team in American professional sports during that time frame. Dan Rooney's influence as chairman of the league's diversity committee made it a requirement for any team seeking a new head coach to include an interview with at least one minority candidate during that process. For this reason, the practice has become known as the "Rooney Rule".
The Rooneys are also related to the Mara family, part-owners of the New York Giants. The Mara family name used to be O'Mara and their Rooney family ancestors originate in Newry, County Down. Actresses Kate Mara and Rooney Mara are the daughters of Timothy Christopher Mara, the vice president of player evaluation for the New York Giants, and Kathleen McNulty (née Rooney). Their paternal grandfather, Wellington Mara, was the long-time co-owner of the Giants, succeeded by their uncle, John Mara. Their maternal grandfather, Timothy James "Tim" Rooney, has run Yonkers Raceway in Yonkers, New York since 1972. The Mara sisters are the great-granddaughters of both New York Giants founder Tim Mara and Pittsburgh Steelers founder Art Rooney, Sr.
Other notable family of Art and Kathleen Rooney include:
In July 2008 the Rooney family went public with the plan to reorganize the ownership structure of the franchise. Each of the five Rooney brothers owns 16% of the team, combining for 80%, while another related family, the McGinley's, own 20%. Dan Rooney, chairman, stated that his four brothers are moving towards other non-football-related business ventures and he is in talks with them to buy out their shares. However, the other four brothers believe Dan undervalued their shares, and hired Goldman Sachs to give them an estimate on the team. The estimate by Goldman Sachs valued the team between $800 million and $1.2 billion. One potential buyer has been identified, Stanley Druckenmiller, the Pittsburgh billionaire who is the chairman of Duquesne Capital Management and a former money manager for George Soros. Talks to restructure the ownership continued for two years to comply with NFL ownership policies and ensure ownership and operation under the Rooney family. The four brothers' ventures with family race tracks that allow slot machines violate NFL rules of ownership with revenue from gambling enterprises. The ownership structure also violated the NFL rule stating that at least one individual must own 30% of the team to be principal owner, and no individual owns at least 30% of the team. The team does not expect the negotiations to have any effect on the players or fans.
NFL owners unanimously approved the restructuring of ownership on December 17, 2008, with Dan & Art II getting the mandated 30% stake. Meanwhile, brothers Timothy and Patrick (the ones who own race tracks with slot machines, which violate NFL ownership rules) selling their shares outright, while Art Jr., John, and the McGinley family selling some shares but retaining smaller ownership roles, with the brothers reducing their shares from 16% to 6% and the McGinley family reducing their shares from 20% to 10%. Also coming on as partners are Pilot Corporation & Pilot Travel Centers president Jim Haslam III (son of founder Jim Haslam Jr. and brother of Tennessee governor Bill Haslam; Jim Haslam III would later relinquish his stake when he purchased the rival Cleveland Browns), Legendary Pictures president & CEO Thomas Tull, and the Paul family of Pittsburgh & Los Angeles (who are primarily involved with Pittsburgh-based Ampco Pittsburgh Corporation and serve on numerous boards, including University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and University of Pittsburgh), each getting a 16% stake in the team. Dan Rooney mentioned he has no ill will towards Druckenmiller, mentioning he's a great Steelers fan and wishes he remains one
The Steelers later announced on March 23, 2009, that they added three more investors to the team, the most notable of which is Hall of Fame wide receiver John Stallworth. The other two investors added were GTCR chairman Bruce V. Rauner and the Varischetti family of Brockway, Pennsylvania, which owns several nursing homes and a commercial real estate business. The deal to add all six new investors is expected to be finalized in May 2009.
- Steelers' success all in the family
- Millar, John (September 28, 2008). "Hollywood Star Pays Tribute To Stone Of Denisty Nationilst". Sunday Mail. Retrieved on October 4, 2008.
- Rooney Mara, Kathleen (2008). "940 by Kathleen Rooney Mara". Pittsburgh in Words. Retrieved 2010-10-10.
- Staple, Arthur (January 30, 2009). "Rooney Mara links NFL's two royal families". Newsday. Retrieved on January 31, 2009.
- "Eileen Hawthorn Engaged to Wed T. J. Rooney Jr.". The New York Times. November 5, 1989.
- "Steelers, Giants memorabilia auctioned to help Kenyan orphans". December 11, 2008. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved on December 11, 2008.
- ESPN - NFL approves Rooney's ownership plan