Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lemieux, Bettman and Officials Reach Deal: Penguins to Stay in Pittsburgh

So the trips to Kansas City and Las Vegas went for naught- or rather, it was a slick move by Penguins officials to swing the Pennsylvania politicians into giving the franchise its new home. Bettman, Lemieux, and Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania government officials finally came to a deal yesterday, solidifying plans to build a new arena for the Penguins and keeping the franchise squarely in the land of the Quakers.

The deal provides for a $290 million facility to be paid for by taxes on the state's casinos. The team is responsible for a minimal portion of the financing- only $3.8 million toward construction costs and less than half a million each subsequent year for improvements. Most strikingly, the state is being required to pay the team a $10 million penalty for delaying the deal and for property already purchased by the team. The new arena is purported to be ready for the 2009-2010 season.

I'm happy to see an NHL staple stay put in one of the biggest hockey markets in the country- it would be disappointing for the game itself to see them move. However, I was excited at the prospect that the Jackets could have had a shot at moving to the Eastern Conference, which they seem to play rather well against, particularly this season.

The deal that seemed so long in the making came out to benefit the Pens more than I ever expected. I haven't followed these sort of deals much lately, but it seems like the Penguins really won this one. Not only did they score their new arena, they're paying for less than 1.5% of it- and that's not counting the $10 million penalty. Factor that in, and the government is paying for the entire construction cost plus the first 15 years of upkeep. Granted, the arena construction money is to come from the casino's coffers, but that tax money could just as easily be used to finance education, welfare, transportation costs, serve other needs of the Pennsylvania citizenry.

One could make the argument that the value of keeping the team in the Steel City is priceless, but did the taxpayers, government officials, and the City of Pittsburgh get a good deal here? Let us know in the comments.

1 comment:

Brandon said...

Ultimately, the fans won.