Thursday, March 8, 2007

Penguins Owners Check Out Las Vegas - Lemieux Doubles down on 6-6

As we all know, the Pens are looking around for a potential relocation destination. Kansas City, with their nearly completed Sprint Center, is desperate for an anchor team and looks like the current top choice. Also in contention is Houston, which also needs a team for their Toyota Center.

Lemieux and the rest of the Penguins ownership is now also investigating Las Vegas. Currently, the arena cited in the Pittsburgh press article isn't a whole lot better than what the Pens now have in Pittsburgh. But the city of Las Vegas, and it's wealthy casino elite, could easily be swain into constructing a new, more modern facility. Las Vegas already has an ECHL team (though, isn't ECHL a bit of a misnomer? There's nothing east coast about southern Nevada), which plays in the Orleans Arena, of course affiliated with the Orleans Casino. From web photos, the Orleans Arena looks like a modern facility, and I'm not sure why that venue would not be considered for NHL use.

Vegas is a city that would benefit from, and for, a sports team. They have a large enough fan base to support a team, plenty of financiers, and tons of travelers that regard the city as a mecca of entertainment, and would certainly attend games- especially if they were 'comped' to you in exchange for your high roller play at the tables. Despite this, at least one member of the Las Vegas Press thinks seeing Crosby and Staal on The Strip is unlikely.

If the Penguins select Las Vegas as their next home, they are best to do it as soon as possible. The NBA is also eying Vegas as a potential expansion or relocation site. By getting there first, the Pens could secure money and a fan base before they have in-town sports entertainment competition.

It doesn't cease to fascinate me how Pittsburgh, one of America's greatest hockey cities, is unwilling to help the team pay for a new arena, yet two other major cities (Kansas City and Houston) who haven't had an NHL team are clamoring to house the Penguins- plus several others that would love to strike a deal with Lemieux and the gang.

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