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Rivers makes $2.6 million arena payment

Rivers Casino today handed over the second of its two annual installments to help pay for the CONSOL Energy Center, a casino spokesman announced.

The money is part of $7.5 million annually the casino pays on the hockey arena's debt. The payments, which are due on April 1 and Oct. 1 of each year, are part of Rivers Casino's gambling license agreement. By the time the 30-year agreement runs out, the casino will have contributed $225 million toward the new home of the Pittsburgh Penguins, which opened last year.

The next payment of $4.9 million is due in April. Since payments began in October, 2009, the casino has paid $17.6 million.

In addition, the casino hosted a poker tournament fundraiser this month that raised more than $22,300 for the Mario Lemieux Foundation, which supports cancer research. Lemieux, co-owner of the Penguins, created the foundation in 1993, the year he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease.

"The recreational and entertainment infrastructure in Pittsburgh has rarely been stronger, thanks to great corporate citizens like Rivers Casino," said state Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Brookline. Fontana is chairman of the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority, which owns the arena, as well as its soon-to-be-demolished predecessor, the Civic Arena.

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