Tom Rooney

Entertainment Industry Executive who oversaw building of America's Concert Amphitheaters

Tom Rooney is one of the nation’s most prominent professionals in the worlds of music venue management and sports industry promotion.  He has three decades of experience working with Pace Entertainment, the Civic Arena, The Pittsburgh Penguins, The Pittsburgh Spirit, the Meadows Race Track, the Steelers, NFL owners, and several minor league teams.  As director of Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena for five years he promoted sports and concert events.   In 1990 he joined Pace Entertainment to open the 22,000 seat Star Lake Amphitheatre in Burgettstown, Pa.  He managed the venue through three concert seasons before being promoted to President of Pace Entertainment in 1994.  He oversaw the construction and opening of a dozen of the largest outdoor music Amphitheatres across the U.S. along with a venue in the U.K. Venues were constructed in the Philadelphia market, Columbus, Charlotte, and other major cities. Tom managed all of the amphitheaters for five concert seasons.  He was a key player in moving the concert business to summer tours of large outdoors venues.  Returning to Pittsburgh in 1999 he became executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Lemieux Group/ Team Lemieyx overseeing the Penguins and Mellon Arena entertainment events.  In 2003 he founded the Tom Rooney Sports and Entertainment Group to provide services to sports teams for marketing, sponsorships, venue launches, and concert promotion.  Working with ten NFL teams in 2005 he founded the GSN (the Gridiron Stadium Network).  GSN books and promotes concerts tours at NFL stadiums in 10 cities.  GSN has promoted tours by Kenny Chesney and other major stars. 


Tom Rooney was born and raised on Pittsburgh’s North Side. He started in the music business as a performer.  During his high school and college years in the mid 1960s he was the lead singer in a band called the UFOs.  Heavily R&B influenced, the UFOs played tunes by Sam Cooke, Wilson Pickett, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Smokey, the Stones, and the Animals. They appeared at school dances, weddings, and outdoor concerts. The City of Pittsburgh sent the UFOs to play concerts in Manchester, the Hill, and other neighborhoods in the summer closing down the streets for dancing. When most garage bands of the era were playing the music of the British invasion, the UFOs had people dancing in the streets to R&B and soul. 


Tom graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism and took a job as a sports writer at a small daily newspaper owned by Dardanell Publications. After the paper folded, Tom continued his sports career in 1975 becoming the director of advertising and promotions at the Meadows Race Track. After a short stay as director of promotions for the advertising firm Marc and Co., he joined the Edward J. DeBartolo Diversified Company in 1981 to be the director and vice president of marketing.  He rose to director of the Pittsburgh Civic Arena in 1986 gaining experience in management of large venues and in concert production and promotion.  At the Civic arena he developed the Penguins “The Boys of Winter” and the Pitsburgh Spirits indoor soccer team’s Hot Legs campaign.


When Pace entertainment announced it’ planned construction of the Star Lake Amphitheater Tom was hired as its executive director.  He oversaw its construction and management. The venue opened with two sold out Billy Joel concerts in 1990 and became the major regional venue attracting audiences from Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and throughout Western Pennsylvania.  In 1994, he became president of Pace Facilities Group and moved to Houston, Texas to manage all of the Pace Amphitheatres, (The Pace amphitheaters were later sold to SFX who in turn sold them to Clear Channel Entertainment who then renamed itself Live Nation.) 


Tom returned to Pittsburgh in 1999 to become named executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Lemieux Group. In 2001, when the company was reorganized as Team Lemieux, Tom became its president and  was involved in operating the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Going into private consulting in 2003 Tom launched the Rooney Sports & Entertainment Group to work with major and minor league sports teams.  He has worked with the Steelers, the Washington Wild Things, Falconi Field, and Wheeling Nailers.  He formed the Grid Iron Network in January of 2005 comprised of NFL venues in Washington D.C,  Denver, Houston, Green Bay, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Detroit, Tampa, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh.  The goal of GSN is to expand the use of the venues for new sports, entertainment, public and private events, and joint bookings of major concert tours.  Tom promote the Kenny Chesney concert at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field that sold more than 54,000 tickets, grossed more than $4.4 million, and was broadcast on ABC TV. Concert tours of the Police and the Dave Matthews Band have been held at GSN venues.


Tom Rooney also writes clever country song lyrics. More than 10 of his songs have been published in Nashville. Several of his tunes have been recorded by in Nashville and have been heard on Froggy Radio including “Steeler Nation” and “Santa is a Steeler Fan”, Oh…. Tom is Mr. Rooney is the nephew of the Pittsburgh Steelers' owner, Dan Rooney.