Stones Coming To Pittsburgh Thanks To “Hometown Help”

The 15-city Rolling Stones “Zip Code” tour will be taking them through Pittsburgh — and the demand for tickets is already at frenzied levels. Yet the last time the Stones went on tour (the 50 And Counting Tour) they skipped Pittsburgh — it’s been almost 10 years since they came through. Why now?

Rolling Stones in 2006. Photo by Severino. License: CC BY 2.0.Turns out, Pittsburgh had a little “hometown help.”
Rolling Stones in 2006. Photo by Severino. License: CC BY 2.0.

According to Steelers president Art Rooney II, one of the team members at Stones promoter AEG hails from Greensburg, and the man (Paul Gongaware) “had a little influence over the process.” In other words, according to Rooney, “we had some hometown help, I guess you could say.”

The concert, which will take place on June 20 at Heinz Field, had been rumored for several weeks before it was announced at a news conference at Heinz Field by Rooney, who made the announcement in front of a black-and-gold Stones logo that had been painted onto the 50 yard line.

Tickets for the Stones tour are already on sale, so fans who want to make it need to hurry. The last time the Stones were in Pittsburgh was for the Bigger Bang tour in 2005, when they visited PNC Park, and there’s no telling when they might visit again.

The tour announcement was preceded by cryptic billboards which for two weeks showed just the Stones’ logo with the text “Satisfaction Thursday.” That announcement had been expected March 19, but was postponed — and the billboards changed to “Tuesday.” (Fan sites long speculated that the Stones would be playing the whole Sticky Fingers album, but whether that will happen is unclear.)

The Stones are probably the 2nd most important rock band in history (after the Beatles) and the musicians themselves are regular ageless wonders: three of four Stones are septuagenarians. (Both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are 71, Charlie Watts is 73, Ron Wood is 67.) In fact the first time they visited Pittsburgh was 51 years ago in 1964, when they played West View Park Danceland. (That show was followed a year later by one in the Civic arena in 1965.) They’ve since played PNC Park and Three Rivers Stadium.

Rolling Stones in 2014. Photo by xiquinhosilva. License: CC BY 2.0.Rolling Stones in 2014. Photo by xiquinhosilva. License: CC BY 2.0.

In a promo video, Jagger noted that people keep asking him why he’s still doing this — but, he noted, “I can’t believe I did this when I was 20.”

The Rolling Stones visit will be the fourth major concert to take place at Heinz Field over the summer, next to the May 30 Kenny Chesney concert, the June 6 Taylor Swift one, and August 2nd’s One Direction concert. There will also be AC/DC and U2 tours over the summer, but there have not been any Pittsburgh dates announced for those — so far.

This is the first time a summer has seen four major concerts at Heinz Field, though 2011 saw four scheduled until Brad Paisley canceled his date there and the total dropped to three. Last summer’s Luke Bryan concert drew over 50,000 fans and according to Heinz Field management, produced some $500,000 worth of direct taxes to the city and $150,000 worth of fees.

Thanks to improved trash management, last summer’s Bryan concert combined with the Jason Aldean one that took place at PNC Park helped calm down some of the concerns which resulted from the parking lot issues in the aftermath of the 2013 Chesney show.