Wednesday, December 20, 2006


I just don't know. A week ago it seemed like everything was going to work out for the Penguins to stay in Pittsburgh. A new owner, a wealthy young Canadian digerati hockey fan from a town too small to have its own NHL team but close enough to commute to games. The prospect of a new arena, whether via the Isle of Capri casino proposal or Plan B, which the new owner had finally somewhat endorsed.

Now it's all gone to shit. Jim Balsillie pulled out of the deal suddenly last week. The announcement came at 6 p.m. on a Friday, just an hour and a half before a really good home game (and tuque night!). Supposedly it had to do with the NHL wanting him to agree to never ever move the team ever. Stupid NHL.

Did I trust Balsillie not to move the team? No, but I believed that keeping it here was going to be a better business decision than moving it. I trusted him to give us the benefit of the doubt if other factors were equal.

At least they get to keep his deposit.

Second strike, today the gaming commission awarded the one license for a slots casino to the Mystic Star group. You might wonder what this has to do with a hockey team, but one of the competing applicants, Isle of Capri, promised to build a nice new hockey arena for free as part of their casino complex. Free. Gratis. At no cost to you. The Penguins made a deal with IOC that included the fact they could negotiate only with them as long as the proposal was valid, so there's no back-up plan.

And really, Lemieux Group has given us a fair shot to get them a new arena already. They've been telling us for years that the team is for sale and it needs a new arena to stay in Pittsburgh. What exactly did we think was going to happen?

On the other hand, you kind of have to wonder if there was something really crummy about the IOC casino proposal and they felt they needed to give us a free hockey arena to make up for it. If so, it wasn't obvious - I didn't see any problems in what I read about it, and the politicians who evaluated the plan seemed to say it was fine.

The one bright spot in the casino deal is that if it's located on the North Shore I'll never have to see it.

So, where does that leave my team? It's for sale to the highest bidder and the arena lease expires this spring. We obviously don't deserve an NHL franchise. Maybe they'll move to a nice city and I can go there. I'll have to change the blog subtitle, but that's just a few electrons. I guess 40 years of history doesn't count for much with local politicians.

Depressing Post-Gazette coverage:

Better article (but still depressing):

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Aw--suck. You know I don't follow hockey, but I always have had a soft spot for the Penguins... Booo to them leaving P'burgh.