Emailed Tim Benz with the following (includes direct link to Rendell telling the Pens JUST THIS PAST JUNE that no public money was available for an arena)...
In light of Mr. O'Connor's appearance on your show this afternoon, I'm wondering if you could discuss with him the following items regarding the pursuit of a new arena.
First, according to the article which ran in the Tribune-Review today, Mr. O'Connor is "frustrated by the team's uncooperative stance" when it comes to the Pens' willingness - or more accurately, legal ability - to discuss an alternate "Plan B" for arena funding. The article goes on to state that Gov. Rendell and Allegheny County Chief Exec. Dan Onorato are equally puzzled by the Pens' refusal to discuss any alternates. Gov. Rendell went as far as to call it "baffling," "puzzling" and "crazy".
It's funny that none of these officials took the time to acknowledge the fact that, as part of their agreement with Isle of Capri, the Pens are under an obligation to not discuss alternate funding terms for an arena. Playing Devil's advocate here, this is perfectly sound business practice by Isle of Capri as it protects their interest in the slots license bid. The arena is clearly the lynchpin to the Isle of Capri proposal and if a feasible alternate source of funding is found, it could damage Isle of Capri's chances of getting the bid.
Not even a year has passed since the Pens were told by Governor Rendell that no public money was going to be made available for an arena project. In fact, according to this article from the Post-Gazette...
the Governor goes as far as to suggest that the Pens pursue the slots license so as to secure the private financing which elected officials had told them up to that point would be necessary to make the arena a reality. In essence, the Pens' "Plan B" should be to seek the slots license and use that revenue to pay for the new arena.
The Pens took that suggested course of action and secured a means of financing the arena completely with private funds. All of sudden, though, they are being told that it's not good enough, and that they should seek a "Plan B" that involves public funding - this only eight months after being told that no public money would be available.
I'm just curious about some things. Would Mr. O'Connor care to try to explain why the elected officials decided to wait so long (basically, the seven years since Lemieux bought the team) to acknowledge that public funding was in fact available? And if said funding was available, why were the Pens told as little as eight months ago that it wasn't, and that they needed to locate private financing for the project? And perhaps he could offer some reason why after securing a means to provide that private financing, they are being told that they should look at alternatives that involve public money?
Finally, perhaps he can also explain how the city expects to fill a $70 million dollar hole in the revenue streams that could exist when the team leaves because the elected officials dragged their feet on this issue?
Thank you for your time.
C. J. Jiuliante