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Kansas City makes way for the Penguins or any team available


KANSAS CITY -- Just as surely as the game clock in hockey counts down to zero, the time is almost at hand for those who have toiled for years to bring an NHL team back to the nation's heartland. And the way the stars align in the hockey universe, the time left for the Penguins to get a new arena in their home city is ticking away.

Three decades after a team called the Scouts failed to survive in Kansas City, all the elements are in place for a hockey revival within a matter of months. The lease for the Penguins, born in 1967 in the only place they have called home, expires in June.

Coincidence?

Or is it the ultimate motivation to cobble together a Plan B after years of inaction in Pittsburgh?

Or is it just leverage for franchise owners to get the sweetest possible deal?

Time will tell.

Work crews are hoisting the glass facade into place on the new, $276 million Sprint Center, which is on schedule to open in the fall of 2007 if the city secures a franchise. A heavy-hitter in the arena business, Anschutz Entertainment Group, will manage the arena with former Penguin Luc Robitaille serving as its point man. Financier William "Boots" Del Biaggio III, a former Penguins suitor, is under contract and ready to commit up to $200 million to buy a team to occupy the new arena. Luxury suites are already sold out, and the framework for buying club seats and season tickets will be announced in January.

"The pieces are coming together," said Paul McGannon, who for years has led a grass roots effort to give the NHL a second chance in Kansas City. "We feel we're at the top of the list of any city looking to attract a hockey franchise. Kansas City is a big believer that sports teams are people magnets to bring people Downtown. A lot of people have not been Downtown in years, because there was no reason to come Downtown."

As the final pieces of glass, steel and concrete come together to complete this city's ambitious plans, local officials can't help but be aware of what's going on with the Penguins. Kansas City has an arena but no franchise while Pittsburgh has a franchise free to move if a long-discussed arena deal doesn't materialize.

When Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. failed to get a slots license despite a signed agreement to build a $290 million replacement for Mellon Arena, Penguins' owner Mario Lemieux pulled the team off the market. With the blessing of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, whose position all along had been to keep the franchise in Pittsburgh, the Penguins are now able to pursue options in other cities in case a Plan B fails to produce a suitable arrangement.

As Sprint Center general manager Brenda Tinnen told The Kansas City Star: "Let's just say it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas."

Indeed. Kansas City has no intention of actively going after the Penguins. It doesn't have to. If the franchise falls into their laps, they'll feel like kids on Christmas morning.

Kansas City makes way for the Penguins or any team available
 

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Portland is up next

Kansas City???? I think Portland is next in line. KC had their chance with the scouts and blew it.
 

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Fighting Champ Probert said:
Kansas City???? I think Portland is next in line. KC had their chance with the scouts and blew it.
Portland Oregon or Portland Maine?

They should put the team back in Winnipeg, Hartford, or Quebec City
 

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Interesting article. The Sprint Center website is quite impressive, and the new arena in KC looks marvelous. What is interesting with this article is the connections that the proposed owner has with AEG, who are very well connected with the NHL brass.

It wouldn't surprise me if the Pens do flock to KC, but, after all these years, the Pittsburgh political people simply don't seem interested in saving the Pens. Without a new arena, hockey is doomed in Pittsburgh. That's a shame, but that's life.

"They should put the team back in Winnipeg, Hartford, or Quebec City"

Who are "they"?? Maybe if one of those cities built an NHL type arena, and a deep pocketed potential owner stepped up, then maybe "they" would get a team! The decision to either move or not move a team is largely driven by who owns the team, the NHL just can't mandate a new team to a city that doesns't even have an ownership group waiting in the wings!

Hockey will never return to any of those cities, at least not anytime soon. Sorry!
 
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