Thursday, December 08, 2005

TheStar.com - Odds against Penguins staying put

Hey there. Canadian weather arrives -- and now talk of Pittsburgh from Canadian news.
TheStar.com - Odds against Penguins staying put ... Yet Crosby's days in Pittsburgh might be numbered and it has nothing to do with the Penguins languishing in last place in the Eastern Conference with only seven wins in 27 games.

For months, Crosby's teammate and Penguins owner Mario Lemieux has been in a battle with one Las Vegas heavyweight and several Pittsburgh big shots for the right to acquire a licence from the state of Pennsylvania to operate slot machines.
I don't think they had the news of Mario's check in to the hospital with heart ticker weirdness.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Odds against Penguins staying put
Dec. 8, 2005. 01:00 AM

Considering Sidney Crosby's quick rise to stardom, it's hard to imagine that his No.87 Penguins jersey could be on the discount rack in just a few years.

After all, midway through his rookie season, Crosby has done nearly everything the Penguins could have hoped.

He's neck and neck with Washington's Alexander Ovechkin as the league's top first-year scorer, he's displayed a nice mix of off-ice humility and on-ice chutzpah and his good looks have helped attract the likes of GQ magazine, which last month featured Crosby in an article and photo spread.

Yet Crosby's days in Pittsburgh might be numbered and it has nothing to do with the Penguins languishing in last place in the Eastern Conference with only seven wins in 27 games.

For months, Crosby's teammate and Penguins owner Mario Lemieux has been in a battle with one Las Vegas heavyweight and several Pittsburgh big shots for the right to acquire a licence from the state of Pennsylvania to operate slot machines.

Without the licence, Lemieux argues, the Penguins won't be able to afford to build a new home to replace Mellon Arena, at present the NHL's oldest venue. And without a new, luxury-box-laden arena, the Penguins will be on the move. The only question is where.

A glance at Lemieux's adversaries suggests he faces long odds.

Among those bidding for the slot machine licence are Harrah's Entertainment, the world's largest gaming company, and Alco Parking, the largest operator of parking facilities in the Pittsburgh area. Racetrack and casino operator MTR Gaming Group Inc., with interests across the U.S., is also bidding.

As Lemieux surely has discovered in recent months, things like Stanley Cup rings and All-Star Game appearances matter little in the world of politics. More important are statistics pertaining to who has made the largest political donations and who has the best lobbyists.

There's no question that on that front, the Penguins come up short. The family that operates Forest City Enterprises, a local company that has partnered with Harrah's, has contributed $264,942 (U.S.) to the campaigns of elected officials and committees since 2002, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The Penguins, by contrast, have contributed $5,250 through the team's president, Kenneth Sawyer.

Pittsburgh parking magnate Merrill Stabile said in an interview that the Penguins face long odds in winning the slot machine contract and financing for a new arena since city taxpayers already have helped to finance the recent construction of Heinz Field, home of the NFL's Steelers, and the Pirates' PNC Park.

"There's not enough money to pay for everything," Stabile said.

Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy added intrigue to the gaming licence competition when he told reporters in October that the bidding had already been decided.

"It's no secret," Murphy said. "The word is out. The fix is in in Pittsburgh." The mayor declined to elaborate on who would win the licence.

Bidding groups face a Dec.28 deadline to submit their applications to the state and a decision probably won't be announced until next winter.

If the Penguins do pull up stakes, which seems a strong likelihood, a hearty list of cities would covet the last-place club.

Several sports investment bankers who have worked on NHL franchise sales say the most likely candidate cities for their relocation are Houston, Oklahoma City — where the NBA's New Orleans Hornets are playing home games because of Hurricane Katrina — Kansas City and Portland, Ore.

Michael P. O'Connor said...

I am a hockey fan, and I love the pens (I just hate to see them loss) but if they pull this "give us a new arena or we will leave" I say "good bye don't let the door hit you on your way out" we caved to the other teams (read plan B which every one voted against back when it was on the belot, but we still got the tax increase even when it lossed when the people voted against it)

So Mario, if you want to leave if we don't give you a new arean, good bye.