Kennywood has kicked off the 2019 coaster announcement season with something different — a roller coaster themed to a pro sports franchise.
The Pittsburgh-area amusement park is teaming up with the city's most beloved franchise in naming its new coaster "The Steel Curtain," the nickname of the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense from its 1970s Super Bowl champion teams.
The Steel Curtain also will feature nine inversions — which the park says is the most of any coaster in America. (I can't think of one that has more, so I'll go with that. Correct in the comments if you know another.) S&S is designing the coaster, which will have a top speed of 75 mph and top out at 220 feet.
The coaster will anchor a newly-themed Steelers Country land at the park, which also will include End Zone Cafe & Tailgate Patio for food and drinks, as well as The Steelers Experience, with interactive football and team-themed exhibits.
Theme parks have flirted with pro sports themes on their attractions in the past, but usually only by renaming a coaster for a day or weekend following a bet over a playoff game or series involving a local team. Kings Island themed a restaurant to the Cincinnati Reds a few years back, and Disney routinely hosts championship winners as part of its long-standing "I'm going to Disneyland/World!" ad campaign. Disney also is the jersey sponsor for the Orlando Magic, but no park that I know of in the United States has permanently named a ride for a pro sports teams before this one. (Again, correct in the comments, if you can think of an example.)
Outside the U.S., the biggest example of a theme park theming to a sports franchise might be Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi and Ferrari Land in Spain, though one might be able to debate whether those parks are themed to the famous Formula 1 team or to the car brand itself.
The novelty of branding its new coaster to the local NFL franchise should help Kennywood spread the word about the ride. Heck, we're writing about it, and Kennywood isn't typically a park that we cover, nor are S&S coasters usually headline material around here. (Exception 1 and exception 2, of course.) So Kennywood's partnership with pro sports already is working. Now it's up to the coaster to turn that initial interest into the kind of passionate following that the Steelers have cultivated, both in western Pennsylvania and beyond.
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