12/29/2006 3:59:41 PM
Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux has agreed to meet with Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell next week to discuss ways of financing and building a new arena to keep the NHL team from leaving.
However, in a letter to the governor Lemieux and co-owner Ronald Burkle warned that "time is of the essence" and reiterated that they are still exploring all of their options.
"It is essential for the future of this franchise that we negotiate an arena deal that makes economic sense for the long term," the owners wrote.
The Penguins' lease at Mellon Arena, the oldest building in use by an NHL team, is set to expire in June.
Rendell and other civic leaders from Pittsburgh have indicated they would like to meet with Penguins ownership next Thursday. They have put a deadline of March 31 for getting a new arena deal in place but Lemieux and Burkle say they need an answer "well in advance" of that deadline.