Sports Outside the Beltway

Kansas City Penguins?

According to ESPN:

The Pittsburgh Penguins are searching for a new home, and officials in Kansas City are rolling out the red carpet.

The Penguins, whose lease at Mellon Arena expires in June, has attracted interest from cities in the market for an NHL franchise. Kansas City officials, eager to find a tennant for the $276 million Sprint Center scheduled to open this fall, invited the Penguins in for a visit — and they accepted.

Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, who head the Pens’ ownership group, and other front-office personnel were scheduled to meet Wednesday with city officials and Sprint Center representatives, according to a statement released by the team.

“We are meeting with officials in Kansas City today as part of our effort to explore all of our options regarding a new arena,” the statement read. “We have heard many great things about their new building, which is scheduled to open in time for the start of the 2007-08 NHL season.

“We will meet with [Pennsylvania] Governor Rendell, County Executive Onorato and Mayor Ravenstahl in Pittsburgh on Thursday, and we will continue to explore other options as well.

“Our hope is to reach a new arena deal as soon as possible that will best ensure the economic health and long-term future of the Penguins franchise.”

The franchise’s current lease expires in June.

Kansas City is believed to be the first city to extend an invitation for a visit to Lemieux and the Penguins’ ownership team. Other cities that have expressed interest in the Penguins are Houston, Winnipeg, Portland, Ore., and possibly Oklahoma City.

Only time will tell if economic health and long-term future of the Penguins franchise can relate in anyway to staying in Pittsburgh, but Kansas City is looking more like reality.

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