Penguins agree to 10-year deal to keep top minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre
The Pittsburgh Penguins’ top minor-league affiliate will remain in Wilkes-Barre for the next 10 years.
The Penguins and the Luzerne County Convention Center Authority agreed in principle on a new 10-year lease, the arena board announced Monday. The deal will be made official at a meeting of the arena authority Wednesday.
The Penguins found a stable home for their prospects when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton franchise was born in 1999. In the two decades prior to that, their top minor-league team bounced around from Baltimore to Muskegon, Mich., to Cleveland to Syracuse, N.Y.
This season, 20 of the 36 players to suit up for the Penguins also played for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at some point in their careers.
Fan interest has waned in the Wilkes-Barre area since the team ranked in the top five in the AHL in attendance for each of the franchise’s first 10 seasons, but this year’s average crowd of 5,549 at the 8,000-seat arena still ranked 15th in the 31-team league.
Negotiations between the team and the arena dragged on through the end of the season up to the eve of the AHL’s annual spring meetings on Monday, which caused anxiety among fans in Northeastern Pennsylvania until the deal was announced.
“I am grateful for the relationships we have been able to forge with the Penguins executive team in Pittsburgh, and here locally, that clearly made these complex but fair negotiations beneficial to both the Penguins and the taxpayers of Luzerne County,” state Sen. John Yudichak said in a press release.
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .