Sports Outside the Beltway

Pittsburgh Penguins Meeting to Discuss Future of Arena

The new casino for Pittsburgh was announced, and it was not Isle of Capri.

PITTSBURGH – Pittsburgh Penguins ownership planned to discuss the state’s rejection Wednesday of a slot-machine casino application by Isle of Capri Casinos, which had promised to build a $290-million arena if it got a license.

The Penguins ownership group, headed by Hall of Fame player Mario Lemieux, did not immediately comment on the decision by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to reject the slots license.

After the decision was announced, the Penguins practiced at Mellon Arena, the 45-year-old building the team says must be replaced for it to remain viable in Pittsburgh.

The board voted unanimously to award the city’s only slot-machine license to Detroit-based casino developer Don H. Barden’s PITG Gaming. Barden’s group proposes building a casino and entertainment development on the city’s North Shore, near Heinz Field and PNC Park.

Barden had promised to contribute some money for a new arena over 30 years under a plan proposed by city and county officials that would include public funds. But that plan also calls for the Penguins to help pay for the facility.

The short of this is, the Penguins had been counting on Isle of Capri to build them a new arena – as things currently stand, they cannot easily afford to help pay for the arena. Now, they are without an arena, and are back in the sales market after the interested buyer ran into a dispute with the NHL and pulled out. The question of whether the Penguins will stay in Pittsburgh is looming over the team, and a lot depends on what they hash out over the next few weeks. In addition, they need a new owner as soon as possible. The future is very uncertain for this franchise. Unless they net an owner with deep pockets dedicated to making this work, they may be reaching the end of their tenure in the Steel City.

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