It looks like the Pittsburgh Penguins will be leaving Pennsylvania after all.
Penguins ownership confirmed Monday that it will actively seek to relocate the franchise elsewhere after declaring an impasse in negotiations with state and municipal leaders on a new arena.
"We can do no more," Penguins owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle said in a letter to Gov. Ed Rendell, Allegheny County chief executive Dan Onorato and Pittsburgh mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
"A project of this scope, with so many complex issues, can ill afford further delays that add more risk and more uncertainty. The risk has been magnified by what we perceive as a lack of collaboration from the public sector in the negotiations."
Lemieux and Burkle stated that they agreed to commit $120 million US over 30 years toward the cost of building a $290-million US arena and construction overruns, but have yet to reach a deal because government officials reportedly seek $4.1 million US annually.
"I thought it was close," Onorato said. "I thought we were moving in the right direction."
"They're tough negotiators," Rendell noted.
Initially, the Penguins cut a deal with the Isle of Capri Casinos to build an arena at no cost to the team or to taxpayers if Capri was granted a state licence to build a slots casino in Pittsburgh.
When the licence was awarded to a competing bid, the Penguins scrambled to negotiate an alternative funding plan for an arena.
Arguing the arena project cannot be delayed any longer, Lemieux and Burkle said: "We have no choice but to declare an impasse and to notify NHL commissioner Gary Bettman that we will aggressively explore relocation."
The Penguins play at Mellon Arena, which was built in 1961 and lacks basic amenities that generate revenues in modern venues.