Heinz Field is a stadium located in the North Shore neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Primarily, it serves as the home to the Pittsburgh Steelers and University of Pittsburgh Panthers American football teams, members of the National Football League (NFL) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) respectively since 2001. The stadium is named for locally-based H. J. Heinz Company, which purchased the naming rights in 2001. Attendance for the 65,050 seat stadium has sold out for every Steelers home game, a streak which dates back to 1972 (a year before local telecasts of home games were permitted in the NFL).
Funded in conjunction with PNC Park and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, the $281 million ($364.3 million today) stadium stands along the Ohio River, on the Northside of Pittsburgh in the North Shore neighborhood. The stadium was designed with the city of Pittsburgh’s history of steel production in mind, which led to the inclusion of 12,000 tons of steel into the design. The Great Hall, which spans approximately 40,000 square feet on the east side of the stadium, houses collection of memorabilia from the Steelers and Panthers of the past. Over 400 eateries are located throughout the stadium.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Pittsburgh Pirates shared Three Rivers Stadium from 1970 to 2000. After discussions over the Pittsburgh Pirates building a full-time baseball park, a proposal was made to renovate Three Rivers Stadium into a full-time football facility. Though met with negative reaction from Steelers ownership, the proposal was used as a “fallback position” that would be used if discussions for a new stadium failed. Steelers ownership stated that failing to build a new stadium would hurt the franchise’s chances of signing players who might opt to sign with other teams, such as the other three teams in the Steelers division who had all recently built new football-only stadiums. Ground was broken for Heinz Field on June 18, 1999, at a ceremony co-hosted by the Steelers and the University of Pittsburgh. In June 2001, the H. J. Heinz Company purchased the naming rights to the stadium.
The first event held at Heinz Field was a concert hosted by the band ‘N Sync, on August 18, 2001. Prior to the Steelers regular season schedule, the team played a pre-season game against the Detroit Lions on August 25, 2001. The Steelers were scheduled to open the regular season play at Heinz Field on September 16 against the Cleveland Browns; however, due to the September 11 attacks, all NFL games of the week were postponed, thus moving the stadium’s premiere to October 7, against the Cincinnati Bengals. Prior to the game, a speech from US President George W. Bush, ordering attacks on Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, was shown live on the stadium’s JumboTron. The speech was met with much applause and support from the spectators in attendance. Pittsburgh defeated the Bengals by a score of 16–7 that day.