Penguins’ Arena Discussed

Pittsburgh city and county officials may have found a way to replace Mellon Arena, home to the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins, after a couple of years of brainstorming.

The Allegheny County Sports & Exhibition Authority board has agreed to offer land near the facility and development rights to any qualified slot machine casino owner or private investor willing to build a new arena.

“It is critical that we begin to put the pieces in place to secure the Penguins’ future in Pittsburgh with a new arena,” Mayor Tom Murphy said in a statement.

The 44-year-old Mellon Arena is the oldest and second-smallest venue in the NHL.

Hockey legend Mario Lemieux, majority owner of the Penguins, previously said the team may have to move out of the city if a new facility couldn’t be built. The team’s lease to play at Mellon ends in 2007.

Lemieux said he and team co-owners have talked to gambling companies about teaming up in a bid for the city’s slot machine license. Penguins officials have indicated gambling revenue would be put toward building the new facility.

Another candidate, MTR Gaming, has also pledged $6 million annually for a new arena.

The slot machine license application must be filed with the state Gaming Control Board by December 28th.