Saturday, June 17, 2006

Taxi Licence Financier to Purchase Penguins?

It's very slow for Sidney Crosby related news, but here is some Penguins-related news of note, from the Toronto Star.


The scion of a New York company that finances taxi cab licences has emerged as the latest bidder for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are expected to be sold sometime this summer.

Medallion Financial Corp. president Andrew Murstein has been in negotiations to buy the Penguins and has considered moving them to Houston if the Penguins don't get a new arena, sources told the Star.

Any deal for the Penguins would be on his own and not involve Medallion, which owns, and leases out, roughly 500 of the special tin plates called medallions that cab drivers need to legally operate a taxi in the city. Murstein has the financial backing of New York private equity company Mittland Patterson.

A well-known figure in the sports business industry, Murstein has previously bid for, or weighed pursuing, franchises including baseball's Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers, soccer's Kansas City Wizards, basketball's San Antonio Spurs and hockey's Anaheim Mighty Ducks.

The Penguins will likely be sold before the start of the next NHL season — and well before anyone learns whether the team will get to play in a new arena in Pennsylvania, said Steve Greenberg, an investment banker who is overseeing the sale of the team for owner Mario Lemieux. The former star player acquired the team because he was one of its biggest creditors when it filed for bankruptcy protection.

Other groups that have already surfaced as potential buyers for the Penguins are Ohio businessman Jim Renacci, Lawrence Gottensdiener a Massachusetts real estate development CEO, and Toronto real estate developers David and Sam Fingold. The Fingolds have contemplated moving the Penguins to Kansas City without a new arena.

The Penguins have a promising on-ice future thanks to Sidney Crosby, Russian forward Evgeni Malkin and other young prospects.

It's likely that it will take upwards of $140 million (U.S.) to buy the team.

The Penguins' future in Pittsburgh hinges on which company is awarded a slot-gaming licence by the state government.

The Penguins have partnered with Isle of Capri Casinos Inc., one of the world's biggest operators of riverboat and dockside casinos that's one of the companies pursuing a licence. The Biloxi, Miss., gaming company wants to build a $250 million casino replete with 3,000 slot machines and has also pledged to pay $290 million toward a new arena for the Penguins, who currently play in the NHL's oldest rink, 45-year-old Mellon Arena.

The Penguins can leave Pittsburgh in June, 2007, when their current lease expires.

Isle of Capri has already secured financing for the arena and casino from Toronto's CIBC World Markets, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has reported. But several other groups are also pursuing the slots licence and don't have pacts with the Penguins. The state Gaming Control Board is expected to issue the licence by early 2007.


Only 500 NY city cab licenses? Don't they have about 20,000 cabs or something insane like that?

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