Report: Pens to be sold to Canadian businessman
The Pittsburgh Penguins have an agreement in place to be sold to a Canadian businessman, according to a report Wednesday from KDKA TV in Pittsburgh.
Jim Balsillie, owner of the BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion, has purchased the team for $175 million, according to the report, with an official announcement expected to come Thursday.
When asked by TSN of Canada to comment on the situation, Balsillie would neither confirm nor deny the report, simply saying to the network, "Tomorrow."
The Associated Press reported that Balsillie and the Penguins were in negotiations Wednesday but could not confirm the Pittsburgh television station's report of the finalized agreement.
Though Balsillie's company is based in Waterloo, Ontario, he reportedly plans for the team to remain in Pittsburgh.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters in Raleigh that he would not comment on the matter. Bettman did speak on the issue during a Tuesday teleconference with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
"I anticipate that there will be new ownership, and I am anticipating and certainly extremely hopeful that a new building will be built in Pittsburgh because we all know the Penguins have to have a new building," Bettman told the Gazette.
"With new owners and with a new building, my belief is that the future of the Penguins in Pittsburgh is both warm and bright. We don't want to see that team move."
Three Rivers Stadium -- where both MLB's Pirates and the NFL's Steelers used to play -- was demolished in 2001. The Pirates moved to PNC Park and the Steelers to Heinz Field, both of which were partly publicly funded.
Several other groups based outside of Pittsburgh had been in the running to buy the Penguins. Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, and former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino were among the interested parties.
Current Penguins owner Mario Lemieux and his partners were first approached about selling the team in January. Lemieux made it clear that any new owner would have to agree to keep the team in Pittsburgh.
But Bettman expressed to the Post-Gazette that moving the Penguins was not out of the question if the city was unwilling to provide a new arena for the team.
"The only thing that would drive us out of town would be the inability of those in charge -- government entities -- to provide a new building as they provided with the Steelers and Pirates."
A gaming company may play a big role in the Penguins' efforts to get a new stadium. Isle of Capri will donate $290 million toward a new facility to replace Mellon Arena if it gets a slots license in the city of Pittsburgh.
Lemieux, the first former player to be a majority owner of his old team, saved the team from bankruptcy in 1999. The Penguins have reached the playoffs twice in Lemieux's tenure, and the hometown favorite even made a comeback to the ice in 2000 after a three-year retirement.
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