Letter to the editor in today's PG:
As a sportscaster, I made it my policy to keep my nose out of political issues except when they affected sports. The Penguins' pursuit of the Pittsburgh slots license falls into that category.
Two possibly relevant memories cross my mind.
1) I once interviewed Art Rooney for a 1970 book I was writing, "The Game That Was." To my surprise, he revealed that in the early 1950s he had turned aside five offers -- "fantastic offers" -- to move the Steelers. Baltimore, Buffalo, Atlanta, New Orleans, Cincinnati -- offers came from all five.
The Chief told me: "If you didn't care for the city or its people ... you could have picked up and gone."
He then made a point that bears on our possible loss of the Pens. He mentioned datelines. (Traveling reporters covering a Pens game here start their stories with one word: PITTSBURGH.) Mr. Rooney said: "When you lose your dateline, your city has suffered an important loss."
2) Leaders in the Cleveland area did not believe Art Modell would move his football team, then stuck in ancient Cleveland Municipal Stadium. They built new structures for baseball and basketball and a Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. Right or wrong, Mr. Modell abruptly took his franchise to Baltimore. A great football city went quiet for five years.
I do not know all the particulars of the Pens' proposal for an arena privately funded by a major casino operator, nor do I claim an expert's opinion of its practicality. But I blinked at Gov. Ed Rendell's stated reservation about the proposal. Also, I puzzled over Mayor Bob O'Connor and county Chief Executive Dan Onorato still being walls of silence.
I now have read that all three gentlemen have received campaign contributions from the Cleveland developer seeking the slots license ("Ratners Try, Try, Try, Try Again for Casino," Jan. 29) with a plan, I suspect, that would give us a gigantic South Side traffic jam.
From the sideline, I earnestly hope campaign money from any source will not carry the day.