Penguins talking to two bidders
Thursday, September 07, 2006
By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
With Sam Fingold still trying to iron out details to reach a purchase agreement, the Penguins have contacted at least two other original bidders for the team, sources close to the sale process said yesterday.
The team also has changed its approach about slots money for a new arena, telling the bidders they should base their offers on the "Plan B" funding, rather than counting on getting $290 million from Isle of Capri should that gaming company get the city's slots casino license.
Jim Renacci, a Ringgold High School graduate and now Ohio mayor and businessman, and New York businessman Andrew Murstein, whose investment group includes Western Pennsylvania sports figures Mark Cuban and Dan Marino, apparently are back in the running to buy the Penguins.
It was unclear whether a fourth bidder, Hartford real estate developer Lawrence Gottesdiener, is still involved.
Fingold, a Toronto native and Hartford real estate developer, trumped the other three in late July when he signed a letter of intent to negotiate exclusively with the Penguins. His bid was about $175 million, but there are sticking points involving money and other business matters.
Fingold had talked with Kansas City about bringing a team to its new arena but said at the time he signed the letter of intent that his priority was to try to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
Renacci, who owns an Arena Football team in Columbus, had the low bid of the four finalists, around $150 million. Murstein, president of Medallion Corp., was believed to be close to $170 million. Both have said they are determined to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh, where the team's lease at aged Mellon Arena expires in June and there is no ironclad plan for a new venue.
"My commitment to keeping the team in Pittsburgh has never changed through the whole process, and I would not be interested in moving it," Renacci said yesterday in an e-mail interview. "I have always assumed that I would have to work with the current 'Plan B' process."
Murstein was not available for comment.
The Penguins formed a partnership with Isle of Capri, which has agreed to pay $290 million toward a new facility if it is awarded the city's slots license.
Local and state officials devised an alternate funding plan should Forest City/Harrah's or PITG Gaming get the slots license that calls for money up front and yearly payments from the Penguins, as well as yearly payments from the winning gaming company and the state.