Archive for Friday, March 9, 2007

Penguins to keep talking

Franchise’s future uncertain after meeting

March 9, 2007


— The future of the Pittsburgh Penguins remained unsettled Thursday after four hours of discussions resulted in plans for another negotiating session next week.

Owners Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux, Gov. Ed Rendell, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman met in Philadelphia for negotiations for a new arena for the team.

The talks ended shortly after 11 p.m., and the sides agreed to meet again next week.

"We had a very constructive meeting where significant progress was made," the team and elected officials said in a joint statement. "The parties have agreed to meet next Wednesday. They have also agreed that no further comment will be made."

Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo would not divulge the location of either meeting.

The Penguins are threatening to leave Pittsburgh if they can't secure a new rink. Their lease at 46-year-old Mellon Arena, the oldest facility in the league, expires June 30, and the team is free to leave after that.

Across the state where the Penguins faced the New Jersey Devils, fans started a "Save Our Pens!" chant less than a minute into the game.

Team owners have cast a wide net in search of a new home, including visits to Kansas City, Mo., and Las Vegas. The Penguins have been offered free rent and half of all revenues if they agree to play in Kansas City's soon-to-be-completed $262 million Sprint Center, under operation by the Anschutz Entertainment Group.

Steve Glorioso, a spokesman for Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes, stressed the city at this point was not involved in the negotiations.

"We really are kind of spectators," Glorioso said. "It's Pittsburgh's to win or lose. We can't do much more than what we've done."

At Thursday's game, there were dozens of signs and colorful banners throughout the arena with sentiments ranging from anti-Rendell or anti-Kansas City to pro-Penguins and pro-Pittsburgh. Four shirtless men in the crowd spelled out "NO KC" across their chests.


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