Penguins off the market: Mario Lemieux
Majority owner Mario Lemieux said Thursday the Pittsburgh Penguins are off the market and he will investigate relocating the club outside Pennsylvania.
"It is time to take control of our own destiny," Lemieux said in a statementfrom the team.
"Accordingly, starting Thursday, the team is off the market, and we will begin to explore relocation options in cities outside Pennsylvania. After seven years of trying to work out a new arena deal exclusively in Pittsburgh, we need to take into consideration the long-term viability of the team and begin discussions with other cities that may be interested in NHL teams."
The Penguins' future in Pittsburghwas throwninto doubt after the state Gaming Control Board denied Isle of Capri Casino Inc. a slots licence on Wednesday.
Isle of Capri was one of several candidates bidding for a casino licence for a new downtown Pittsburgh slot-machine parlour. The company had agreed that if it got the licence, it would build a new $290-million US arena to replace the 45-year-old Mellon Arena, the oldestfacilityin the NHL.
Last week, after Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie withdrew his offer to purchase the hockey club, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman acknowledged that the Penguins' future in Pittsburgh depended on the granting of the Isle of Capri licence.
Kansas City, Las Vegas, Houston, Oklahoma City and Seattle are among the cities trying to land an NHL franchise.
Lemieux didn't shut the door on Pittsburgh completely, saying the club will, "also begin discussions with local leaders about a viable Pittsburgh arena plan."
2 Canadians indicate interest in team
Balsillie, co-chief executive officer of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd., had signed an agreement to buy the team in October for a reported $175 million, pending approval from the league.
Even though he withdrew his initial offer, Balsillie has indicated he's still interested in trying to purchase the Penguins, but Lemieux said any deal with the billionaire is dead.
On the weekend, another Canadian — Frank D'Angelo, owner of Ontario-based Steelback Breweries — expressed his interest in buying the Penguins.
The decision to pursue the Penguins was made after a six-hour meeting on Friday between D'Angelo and his business partner, Dr. Barry Sherman, the chief executive officer of pharmaceutical giant Apotex.
D'Angelo's bid for a CFL franchise in Ottawa was recently turned down.