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Power, Arena Football League expect to return to Pittsburgh in 2014

| Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 11:03 p.m.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Power wide reciever P.J. Berry can't hang of to a second-half pass against the Talons Sunday, April 28, 2013, at Consol Enrgy Center.

Attendance is stagnating at Consol Energy Center, and victories are scarce, but the Power and Arena Football League plan to return to Pittsburgh in 2014 for a fourth season.

“I absolutely expect them to be back,” AFL commissioner Jerry B. Kurz said.

Power owner Matt Shaner, who will meet with Penguins officials this summer to discuss next year, is equally optimistic.

“I have heard nothing to lead me to believe (otherwise),” he said.

Jay Cooper, interim general manager at AEG Facilities, which manages Consol Energy Center for the Penguins, declined to speculate on the Power's future beyond this season.

“The focus has been making this season successful as best we can,” he said. “We haven't really looked at next season.”

Kurz, who will attend the Power's final home game of the season July 13 and meet with fans and media, said Shaner and his ownership group have been good for the league, serving on committees and last year helping to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the players' union.

“Matt Shaner and (co-owner) Lynn Swann put not just money into the team and the league but their heart and soul, as well,” Kurz said.

Shaner said the Power's contract with Consol, the most important element to maintaining an AFL franchise in Pittsburgh, stipulates the team's average attendance must reach 6,000 over the first three seasons.

Otherwise, the Penguins have the right to renegotiate the Power's lease. After announcing a crowd of 5,036 on Saturday, the Power is averaging 6,724 over its first 26 games.

Average attendance this season is 5,706, an increase of 10.5 percent over last year but down 38 percent from two years ago.

Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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