December 11, 2005

Please welcome your 2007-08 Kansas City Penguins!: "I think we're really running out of time," said [Mario] Lemieux, his tone laced with frustration. "We probably ran out of time already. It's been unfortunate that the city and the county haven't been willing to work with us over the last two or three years."

There's a ray of hope, with a new Mayor "anxious" to keep the Pens in Pittsburgh, but the with the rhetoric ramping up on both sides, it's starting to look bad.

posted by chicobangs to hockey at 09:48 AM - 24 comments

This partly folds back to this discussion in that the Pens have been in Pittsburgh for more than a generation, and a majority of Pittsburghers have grown up with them around. I know the Steelers own that town, but they have a history (and with Sidney Crosby, a possible future) there, and it would be a real shame to see them leave because of bureaucratic bullshit. I can't believe there isn't some business leader willing to step forward and pony up for a new arena. There's rich folks there, aren't there?

posted by chicobangs at 10:12 AM on December 11, 2005

There goes another un-natural event in a historic and true hockey city.

posted by nymetfan at 10:14 AM on December 11, 2005

I can't believe there isn't some business leader willing to step forward and pony up for a new arena. There's rich folks there, aren't there? I thought that was what Mario was supposed to be doing when he became an owner: use his name to help get money for a new arena? Mostly, IMHO, he has tried to play past his time, and upset the locals by not playing in order to stay healthy for the last Olympics (and playing for Canada, which doesn't go over that well in Pittsburgh, I am told). Add to that, selling a town favorite player (Jagr), and a few years of really bad hockey results, and it makes it tough to support them. If Mario can't get the money for a new arena, I am not sure anyone can. As for the second half of that sentence, chicobangs, I am not sure where you get that information. Pittsburgh is making a comeback, so to speak, but it is still a recovering former steel town full of blue collar people trying to make ends meet. It is a much more livable town than it may have been when it was known more for its dirty air and rivers, but I don't know about rich folks.

posted by scully at 11:09 AM on December 11, 2005

I was just being flippant, terrapin. It may not be quite boom years there, but there's gotta be enough corporate money there, and hockey fans, and an above-average level of civic pride. This isn't NFL money here they'd need. The NHL should be able to function there. Unfortunately, I suspect you're right. While this isn't quite the same situation as Minnesota a few years ago, I'd like to think that if the Pens leave, then Pittsburgh jumps to the top of the list of places to move a new team. I just refuse to believe that a team can't work in that market. Maybe they just need some time off and a new attitude when someone else moves in a few years (See: Colorado, Atlanta.)

posted by chicobangs at 11:19 AM on December 11, 2005

I'm not sure why a team can't work in that market, either. Mellon Arena was finished in 1961, and it's first event was an ice show (Ice Capades). The name was switched to Mellon Arena for the bank in Pittsburgh. No money? False. That's where Mario has his, and they named it that after the Penguins signed a ten year lease. It seems that the team is upset that their facility is not as new as Minnesota's or Tampa Bay's, but look at the Joe in Detroit, or Madison Square Garden. Those places have been around ever since Jesus parked His bicycle. I'm not sure what they want either, but it seems that it is NOT what they want to stay there.

posted by mrhockey at 12:14 PM on December 11, 2005

The current MSG is only from 1968 though of course there were several buildings before it with the same name, back to about 1891. However, the discussions to replace it with MSG v5 have been going for a few years and I believe are now set or close to it. Pittsburgh, as a blue collar town, should be a better city for hockey than it's been with or without a new arena. Terrapin's list are certainly true but not the reasons why as financial troubles far pre-date them--Mario owns the club because the previous ownership went bankrupt after all. I can't imagine that Lemeuix actually wants to move the team unless he's just pissed at the continuing troubles.

posted by billsaysthis at 02:00 PM on December 11, 2005

Mario is pissed about his own troubles. He's having his own health problems (irregular heartbeat a la Jiri Fischer) and can't get Wayne Gretzky to admit that his presence on Team Canada isn't necessary. He would need to find a financier that will accept his b.s. ideas and the Bank isn't about to do so. Financing a big new arena is close to a $400 million deal. And they are not going to accept any idea of less than the newest arenas in the league, you can count on it. It's a coulda/shoulda/woulda situation and there isn't a hell of a lot of room for errors. Good luck, Mario. You are sure the hell going to need it, babycakes.

posted by mrhockey at 03:53 PM on December 11, 2005

That is just what KC needs, another hockey team that no one cares about. One of these days they will figure out that no one in KC watches hockey. They cannot even get people to come and watch the baseball team. The Pens would be much better off in Pittsburgh.

posted by mcstan13 at 09:28 PM on December 11, 2005

mcstan, do you speak for everyone in KC? There seems to be a bit of a groundswell there for a new team. Part of the urgency with all of this is that they've already laid the groundwork in Kansas City for a franchise. The Kemper Arena has apparently been refurbished since the Scouts played there, which automatically makes it a better venue than the Mellon Arena. There's a natural rivalry with St. Louis, and frankly another franchise just strengthens the NHL's presence in the midwest, where the game has only grown in popularity in the last decade since the Stars moved south and the Wild and Predators appeared. Kansas City makes a world of sense in ways that it didn't in the 1970's. So are all the people who've organized this bid nobodies, mcstan? Do you think the people putting up hundreds of millions of dollars of their own money to move the Penguins to Kansas City have done no market research whatsoever? Do you think they're all idiots as well as nobodies? Do you? Stop speaking for other people who are closer to the story than you, mcstan. And don't call people who give a shit about this Nobodies. It's rude.

posted by chicobangs at 10:39 PM on December 11, 2005

I hadn't thought about the location until chicobangs mentioned this, but I for one will be EXTREMELY interested to find out if the NHL allows this to happen anyway. For three decades, the NHL has not allowed Milwaukee to procure an NHL franchise because, in their words, Milwaukee is too close to Chicago (124 miles) and the fan bases would be diluted by this allowance. Notwithstanding the fact that at the time of the first application, Milwaukee had a brand new state-of-the-art facility (The Bradley Center, built by Lloyd and Jane Pettit) and a thriving minor league hockey team (the Milwaukee Admirals). Yet the NHL continues to this day to deny applications from Milwaukee, for the same reason. Geez, guys, Kansas City and St. Louis are pretty close, are they not? Huh? But they don't seem to have the same hesitation over this one. Mind you, I wouldn't CARE, one way or the other. But I'll be interested to find out if the NHL allows it to get past the talking stage and on to negotiation, or if this is another Mario white-flag.

posted by mrhockey at 04:20 AM on December 12, 2005

Chicobangs seems to forget one thing. Kansas City has had several professional hockey teams (not NHL but professional teams). None of them have survived. I think that it is interesting that you lecture me about not being close to the story. I know what I see. I have seen hockey fail in KC time and again. Also, the attendance numbers for the Royals are some of the lowest in the league. In KC, unless it is football it doesn't draw fans. Plus, your natural rivalry with St. Louis. I am originally from St. Louis, there is no rivalry. In baseball and football we are in opposite conferences. St. Louis only plays the Chiefs in Preseason and the Royals and Cards only play 3-6 times a year. There is no real rivalry. There is one other small matter. You say the game of hockey has grown in popularity. Last time I checked, the major networks were dropping hockey games from the programming because they could not get people to watch. So I realize I overgeneralize a little, but tell me how you being "closer to the story" overshadows the facts that I have just stated and I will come over to your side. P.S. - The new Sprint Arena has an anchor franchise, the K.C. Brigade A.F.L. team. As I said before, if it is football in KC it will sell. They don't need the Pens to make money in the new arena anymore.

posted by mcstan13 at 08:17 AM on December 12, 2005

Mario and the Penguins' political contributions($6k) are nowhere close enough to get the slots license compared to the competition (in the hundreds of thousands). It is all over but the crying in Pittsburgh, unless something miraculous happens. I would advise the NHL to move the franchise to a city with a popular and successful youth hockey program. Does Kansas City have a large chunk of their kids playing the sport? If not, I'd advise the NHL to keep looking.

posted by garfield at 08:35 AM on December 12, 2005

What about New York, Philly & NJ- aren't they a lot closer to each other than 124 miles (or does this just apply to new franchises?). Kansas City & St. Louis are 240 miles apart, by the way. The way the Blues are playing right now, there isn't much of a fan base to dilute. I'm sure the Lauries would love to sell the Blues to a group of KC investors, but their long-term lease with the Savvis Center won't permit that to happen. Also KC has had an NHL franchise in the past- The KC Scouts (1974-1976) who later became the Colorado Rockies.

posted by Bury Bonds at 08:48 AM on December 12, 2005

What about New York, Philly & NJ- aren't they a lot closer to each other than 124 miles (or does this just apply to new franchises?) I think population density is a big factor. 8 mil in NYC, 2mil on LI, 8 mil in NJ, 5 mil in the philly metro areA (includes some of NJ) not to mention Philly has fans probably as far out as Harrisburg. Compare this too the 5.5 mil that make up the total population of Missouri (with some spill over from Kansas) and they might not have enough people to support two teams (didn't work for the scouts) Also KC has had an NHL franchise in the past- The KC Scouts (1974-1976) who later became the Colorado Rockies. Who became the New Jersey Devils

posted by HATER 187 at 09:12 AM on December 12, 2005

KC may have a eager owner, but I can think of a few cities that may give more support: Winnipeg Hamilton (sure, why not? it's not like there aren't enough Leaf fans) Hartford Milwaukee Ah, what do I know about this stuff...

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:25 PM on December 12, 2005

I thought they were going to Portland. Have they not exhausted the options of Winnpeg, Houston, and Hartford? Anyway, good for Mario.

posted by Joe88 at 02:24 PM on December 12, 2005

Portland, Winnipeg and Houston are still in the mix, although there are logistical issues with each. And I for one would love to see a team in Milwaukee somehow, though that'll happen over Bill Wirtz's desiccated hellbound remains. I'd love to see Hartford or Hamilton in the mix, but unless the NHL expands to 40 teams, it's just not happening.

posted by chicobangs at 03:50 PM on December 12, 2005

Doesn't San Antonio want a hockey team too?

posted by billsaysthis at 03:55 PM on December 12, 2005

Hamilton, proably, San Antonio adios.

posted by Joe88 at 04:09 PM on December 12, 2005

Stan's pretty much right on it, chico. I'm from St. Louis originally have been to Kansas City on numerous occasions for sporting events. There is no rivalry between the two cities, excepting when they meet in the World Series and an umpire screws the Cardinals out of their rings. bitter mode off Also: * Kansas City has an abysmal track record, having lost several professional hockey franchises. * I don't where you are getting your information, but hockey is not particularly strong in the Midwest. The Blues have a mediocre fan base at best, although the hardcore guys do buy tickets. In percentage of building filled in 2003-04, Nashville was 27th, Chicago was 30th and Columbus was 14th. The Blues were a respectable 9th and Dallas was 8th (although I don't know of very many people who consider Dallas Midwestern -- I think you might get a 10-gallon asskicking if you called it anything but "southern" inside city limits). This year's even worse, with Columbus 17th, Nashville 20th, St. Louis 28th and Chicago 29th. I wouldn't say this is exactly what you're looking for if you want to settle in a hockey hotbed. *I don't think the people who are backing a KC team are nobodies -- by virtue of their fat wallets, they pretty much can't be. But they can be dead wrong. Rich people make some pretty stupid decisions, don't you think? Send 'em to Winterpeg. Those people need the entertainment, for God's sake.

posted by wfrazerjr at 04:22 PM on December 12, 2005

Hamilton will never get a team. They could support one, but they'll never be allowed to have an NHL franchise. Toronto, Buffalo and Detroit will make sure of that, or at least extract ENORMOUS pounds of flesh from the Hamilton owners before allowing it.

posted by grum@work at 01:20 AM on December 13, 2005

Thank you wfrazerjr. I was not calling the KC hockey people nobodies, I was simply trying to punctuate the point that hockey is not a hot ticket in KC. Actually, in response to Garfield's question, I think there is only one ice rink in KC,MO which is Crown Center and it is not a hockey rink. Therefore, NO there is not a big youth hockey program. On the MO side I don't think there is any. (Don't know about KC, Kansas). Anyway, I just want the facts out there. If the Pens come I hope they do well. I just don't see how it will happen judging from past experience.

posted by mcstan13 at 08:14 AM on December 13, 2005

Bettman confirms Mario isn't exaggerating.

posted by garfield at 11:37 AM on December 15, 2005

All I know is that I live 220 miles from KC in Omaha Nebraska and I would have season tickets. I make it to about 10 NHL games a year between Minnesota, Denver, and St. Louis. How many people have season tickets that live 3 hours from Pittsburgh? Give KC a chance

posted by Jedi95 at 01:35 AM on December 17, 2005

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