Friday, February 23, 2007

New Steelers coach buys home in Shadyside

INDIANAPOLIS -- Mike Tomlin has accomplished something in his first month on the job as Steelers coach that his two Super Bowl-winning predecessors did not in their combined 38 years with the team: He bought a house in the city of Pittsburgh.

Tomlin, his wife and three young children will move in soon. He may be the first Steelers coach to live in the city in more than 50 years, according to Dan Rooney. Walt Kiseling, who last coached the team in 1956, was probably the last one to live in the city, said Rooney, the club's chairman and former president.

"There are lot of things to do in the city," said Rooney, who moved with his wife, Patricia, back into his late father's house on the North Side years ago from Upper St. Clair. "It's a good place. They usually clean the streets of snow in the city, and where he is going to live is pretty good."

As Mayor Luke Ravenstahl tries to convince families and young professionals to live in the city, he has a high-profile new resident to hold up as an example. Mike and Kiya Tomlin bought a large house in Shadyside and the young coach said he plans to live there for as long as the Steelers employ him.

In that sense, he's no different from the two coaches who preceded him, Chuck Noll and Bill Cowher. Each bought a house for their families when they were hired and lived in it until they left the Steelers. But neither lived in the city. Noll lived in Upper St. Clair in the same house for all 23 years on the job, and Cowher lived in the same house in Fox Chapel for his 15 years with the Steelers.

Tomlin will become the first head coach of the Steelers to pay Pittsburgh city taxes in a long time. His new home in Shadyside is old, roomy and has a good back yard for his children -- two boys ages 6 and 5 and a daughter, 9 months -- Tomlin said.

"I'm a guy who likes to get out and do things with my family," said Tomlin, 34 and the second-youngest head coach of any of the four major pro sports leagues. "We're close to a lot of the activities and things. It's a great place, close to work -- all of the above. Just the diversity the city gives us as a family is important to us."
Tomlin's move into the city not only is unusual for a Steelers coach, but it's also rare even for players. Most live in the suburbs north of the city, although some live on the South Side, where the Steelers UPMC training facility is 7 years old.

The city has lost residents for decades, and officials have tried to find ways to lure occupants to downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods.

"I think that's great news," Ravenstahl said upon learning of the move, "and I think it is indicative of the trend, and ideally the continued trend for young professionals and people to move into the city of Pittsburgh, and it's great to have coach Tomlin as one of those folks."

Ravenstahl has proposed a possible tax abatement for downtown residents and those in 20 other city neighborhoods. Although Shadyside is not one of them, having the first Steelers coach and his family on the tax rolls is considered at least good public relations for the city.

"We're really excited," said Ravenstahl, who has not yet met Tomlin.

Tomlin said city fathers can use his move to Shadyside as an example, if they'd like.

"If it's something that works as a positive for what they're trying to get done, great. But it was just a personal decision for my family. I think it's the best thing for us and we're excited about it."

Tomlin was born in Hampton, Va., and went to school in Newport News.

"I'm kind of an urban kid myself, born and raised. My wife's from North Jersey. That's probably our comfort zone."

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