Saturday, July 29, 2006

Penguins Ready To Be Sold

It looks like Mario Lemieux is finally getting out of the hockey business. Sam Fingold, a Hartford real estate broker is ready to purchase for around $175 million US. It looks like this is the plan B to get the Pittsburgh ownership out of this situation where the old Mellon Arena is no longer able to hold NHL games and Lemieux's group of owners have wanted to local politicians to build them an arena. Since there doesn't look to be a local arena deal, the Penguins are going to be sold.

The preliminary deal commits Fingold to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh if the Isle of Capri downtown Pittsburgh slots deal goes through. This deal would commit $290 million toward the construction of a new arena, but looks very unlikely to be allowed bya local politicians and opens uneasy questions about the NHL and its involvement in gambling. Should this slots deal fall through, local officials are trying to work out a way to finance a new Penguins arena, but there are no workable plans right now.

Fingold has previously mentioned interest in possibly moving the Penguins to Kansas City or Hartford. The NHL would not like this to happen, because the lockout was "sold" as a method to fix the NHL (in part by preventing teams from moving from their established markets). Of course the lockout and new CBA does no such thing, but many people in the public believe it does. The NHL would not like to be exposed as liars. It would be particularly bad if Pittsburgh moved because Pittsburgh is a viable hockey market that has had success in the past (two Stanley Cups) and is not in as poor financial shape as some of the newer markets, it merely needs a new arena.

Here is the TSN story on the potential sale.

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