Cuban says involvement with Pens would be minimal

Updated: June 29, 2006, 10:47 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban won't have a substantial financial stake in the Pittsburgh Penguins if the proposed ownership group he supports succeeds in buying the team.

Cuban said Thursday he joined a group headed by New York financier Andrew Murstein after several of his high school friends also aligned with Murstein.

Report: Pens Announcer Out
If Pittsburgh Penguins fans want to hear whimsical phrases after their team scores a goal, they might have to tune in to the radio.

According to a report by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Thursday, Fox SportsNet Pittsburgh elected not to renew the contract of television play-by-play announcer Mike Lange, who has called Penguins games for 30 years.

Lange, who will be replaced by radio play-by-play man Paul Steigerwald, was offered the radio job by Penguins president Ken Sawyer on Thursday, team spokesman Tom McMillan told the Tribune-Review. The team employs the radio announcers, while the television broadcasters work for FSN.

The Foster Hewitt Memorial Award winner in 2001 for his outstanding contributions to his profession, Lange is famous for his raucous outbursts during Penguins broadcasts. Some of his most popular phrases include "Scratch my back with a hacksaw," "She wants to sell my monkey," "Shave my face with a rusty razor" and "Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis has just left the building."

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Murstein is the president of Medallion Financial Corp., a company that finances New York City taxicab medallions and originates consumer loans. Also included are principals in Pittsburgh-based Walnut Capital, a real estate management and development company.

Walnut Capital CEO Gregg Perelman recently partnered with Cuban to buy a nine-story downtown Pittsburgh office building.

"I'm just a minority investor and then we'll go from there. It's not an active role, it's not the Mavericks," Cuban said at a Mavericks function in Dallas. "Honestly, some of my friends that I grew up with were active in this group, that's why I got involved with it. Guys from high school."

Cuban said the Murstein group approached him, not the other way around, because it knew of his interest in Pittsburgh sports. Cuban grew up in suburban Mount Lebanon, Pa., and was interested in buying the Penguins before Mario Lemieux's group purchased the team in federal bankruptcy court in 1999.

"I mean, the goal is to help keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh," Cuban said. "That's goal No. 1."

During a recent appearance on the David Letterman show, Cuban showed off his Pittsburgh roots by wearing a Ben Roethlisberger Steelers jersey.

Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino also has aligned with the Murstein group, one of at least five believed to be interested in buying the Penguins. Like Cuban, his financial involvement is not expected to be substantial.

The Penguins are expected to be sold before the start of the 2006-07 season in October. One issue is the lack of a new downtown arena the Penguins have been attempting to secure since Lemieux bought the team.

A casino firm has agreed to build the arena with no tax money if it secures the license for a downtown slot machine parlor. Gov. Ed Rendell and county and city officials also are trying to develop an alternative plan if the license is awarded to another of three bidders.

Murstein plans to keep the team in Pittsburgh even as an arena deal is completed. Other prospective Penguins bidders likely would move the team if arena financing isn't in place by the end of the 2006-07 season. The Penguins' Mellon Arena lease expires next year.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press