by Tony on 12/20/08 at 03:30 PM ET
Tip of the hat and props to my buds over at The Pensblog for jogging my rapidly aging memory.
It seems so “business as usual’ now, as we watch the Penguins’ new arena, the Consol Energy Center, prepare for its first steel girders this week on the Pens’ webcam.
But two years ago today, there was a whole lotta uncertainty going on in Penguinsland.
Because it was on today’s date two years ago that the “PITG” group, headed by Don Barden, won the slots license for the city of Pittsburgh.
The group that the Penguins supported, the Isle of Capri, did not get the license, and thus started a three-month media freakshow that seemingly had the Penguins all but out of town. If you listened to them, it was merely a matter of time.
Blowhards like TSN’s Darren Dreger was just sooooo sure that the Penguins were headed to Kansas City, Hamilton, Portland, Houston, you name it, anywhere but staying in Pittsburgh.
Then in January, Mario Lemieux, basically forced to play hardball because of years-long feet dragging by state and local officials, headed to Kansas City to check out the brand new Sprint Center. Later that month, meeting with the press afterwards, Mario was playing his cards brilliantly, stating how disappointed he was in the negotiations. Lemieux commented, “I heard it wasn’t very good. Our people were offended and very disappointed. Now, as always, we have to go out and explore our options. Once we find a deal we like, we’ll sign it up.”
It got pretty hairy for a while. On March 5th, Mario starting using the “R” word (relocation). I was still quite positive a deal would get done, as you can see in my link.
Finally, on March 15th, Mario announced to the raucous crowd at the Igloo prior to the Pens/Sabres game that the Penguins would stay in Pittsburgh where it belongs. Naturally, I gave my .02 on the entire new arena situation here.
Then, ironically, Barden ran out of money, losing the license anyway. The license was then awarded to Neil Bluhm.
So as you watch the Consol Energy Center (I’m sure we’ll still call it the Igloo anyway) slowly but surely rise up in the next year and a half, just remember the three months of uncertainty that started two years ago today.
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Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
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