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Tuesday, 11.28.2006 / 12:00 AM ET / News
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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stressed Tuesday that the only certain way to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh is if the Isle of Capri is awarded the city’s gaming license.

“We didn’t discuss the specifics of Plan B because the plan that we’re most interested in; the plan that we want to see achieved and the plan that’s on the table is the Isle of Capri,” Bettman said. “We’re hoping they get the license. Because, if Isle of Capri doesn’t get the license, then we’ve got a lot of uncertainty to deal with. I think it’s best for everybody – the franchise, the fans of the franchise – if we’re not dealing in uncharted, uncertain waters. I did see the development project, where they are projecting to put the arena and how the Isle of Capri plans to develop this area around the arena. I think, from what I have seen of arena projects in cities, this is a very exciting project. I think it is something for the future of this city has great prospects.”

Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly were in Pittsburgh on Tuesday to watch the Penguins take on the Islanders at Mellon Arena.

Earlier in the day, the two met with Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl to discuss the positives of the Isle of Capri plan.

“While we all agreed that it’s important for the Penguins to stay in Pittsburgh and that’s what we all want, it’s also vital that the Penguins get a new arena. They need one desperately,” Bettman said. “The league’s hope and the Penguins’ hope and strong desire is that the Isle of Capri is granted the gaming license because that is the scenario that best deals with the future of this franchise in Pittsburgh. There is no uncertainty about the future of this franchise if Isle of Capri is granted the license. We very much want to see that happen and on an expeditious base as possible because there is a lot of work that needs to be done.”

Bettman also stressed the NHL wants to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

“We want the Penguins to stay here in Pittsburgh. This is a great market; there are great hockey fans. We’d like nothing better than for the Penguins to have a new arena on the right economic terms so we don’t have to worry about the long-term viability of this franchise,” he continued. “The Isle of Capri deal certainly does that. If we have to deal with anything else, then a lot of factors are in play and I can’t be as certain about the future as I can if Isle of Capri gets the license.”

“Certainty comes for this franchise with the Isle of Capri getting the license. Without it, we will enter an era of uncertainty where lots of things can happen.

In addition, Bettman believes Jim Balsille will take over ownership of the Penguins franchise in December.

“The Executive Committee of the Board of Governors is scheduled to meet with Mr. Balsille on Monday (Dec. 4) morning at our meeting. Then, we’ll report to the Board, assuming everything stays on track, sometime shortly thereafter, we’ll conduct a vote,” Bettman said. “I anticipate by sometime in mid-December, give or take, the franchise will be closed upon.”



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