Pittsburgh mayor expects word from Pens this week
PITTSBURGH -- The city's mayor says he expects to know soon if the Penguins will remain in Pittsburgh and move into a new arena, or leave, most likely for Kansas City, at the end of this season.
"I anticipate that sometime this week we will have an answer," Mayor Luke Ravenstahl told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Monday. "There will be some kind of dialogue back and forth this week."
The Tribune-Review reported that Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle spoke on Monday, but that another face-to-face meeting between the two sides has not been scheduled.
"We're making progress, but there is no deal by any means as of yet," Rendell said Monday of the situation. Asked about Ravenstahl's comments about a decision being made this week, Rendell said, "That could be."
Penguins officials declined to comment, the newspaper reported.
The team's lease at Mellon Arena, the oldest building in the NHL, expires in June. Last week at the NHL All-Star Game in Dallas, team co-owner Mario Lemieux said the time was drawing near for the Penguins to decide whether to stay or to relocate.
The Penguins have not asked the league for permission to move, but have "reserved their right to make a formal relocation application" if they don't get an arena deal, deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Tribune-Review.
Last week, Rendell said the city and state proposal for a new arena already was the best given any of Pennsylvania's seven major pro sports teams, and he threatened to take his case to the NHL Board of Governors if the Penguins attempted to move.
Lemieux said at the team's negotiating session with Rendell, county and city leaders took a step backward because of a request the team share revenues from a redevelopment of the Mellon Arena site with casino operator Don Barden.
Barden was chosen last month by the state gaming board to build the only slots machine parlor license granted in Pittsburgh. Barden has agreed to contribute $7.5 million per year toward a new arena, but also wants to redevelop the area around Mellon Arena, where the Penguins have played since 1967.
The Sprint Center in Kansas City has offered the Penguins free rent and revenue sharing if they move to the city, which had an NHL team -- the current New Jersey Devils franchise -- in 1974-76.