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Penguins agree to stay until 2040

The Penguins signed a lease this week committing the team to Pittsburgh and their new $290 million Uptown arena through mid-2040.

Penguins officials signed the lease pledging to play hockey here through June 30, 2040, Gov. Ed Rendell and Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato announced Thursday. The city-county Sports and Exhibition Authority authorized the lease June 7 and the Penguins signed it Tuesday.

"We are excited about the opportunity to bring a new, state-of-the-art multipurpose facility to the region," said Penguins President David Morehouse. "We want to thank Gov. Rendell, County Executive Onorato and Mayor Ravenstahl, and our fans with their help in bringing this together."

When officials signed a memorandum of understanding with the team in March for the complex, Rendell said, "We hoped that this day would come." He and Onorato announced the agreement before a groundbreaking for US Airways' new flight operations center in Moon.

Also this week, Isle of Capri -- the company that had partnered with the Penguins unsuccessfully on a proposed casino-arena development -- gave the SEA its option to buy the last two remaining parcels wanted for the arena's construction, SEA Executive Director Mary Conturo said yesterday. The SEA did not pay anything for the option but is negotiating a sale price with the owners of properties between Colwell Street and Fifth Avenue, now the sites of a synagogue and parking lot, she said.

Rendell said the authority committed Wednesday to financing for the construction of the arena, and the financing deal should close in the first week of October.

Yesterday, the SEA approved a business restructuring of Lemieux Group LP and the Penguins' franchise. The restructuring establishes subsidiaries that will oversee various aspects of the arena's operations, according to Mark Hornak, SEA solicitor. The restructuring required SEA approval because of the Penguins' obligations to the authority, including staying in Pittsburgh and renting the arena, he said. Any entities the team creates must comply with the same terms as the team, he said.

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