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Pitt-for-Brains

The Pittsburgh Penguins have become the latest sports franchise to hold the state of PA hostage so they wouldn’t have to get their own financing for a new arena. Today, Gov. Ed Rendell announced a deal that would keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh. The Penguins had threatened to leave to Kansas City, MO if they could not secure a new arena when their lease with the 40 year old Melon Center expires at the end of this hockey season. In this new deal, the Penguins will get help from PA slot parlor revenue.

A Pennsylvania law signed last year allowed for a certain number of slot parlors to be built in the state. A percentage of the revenue from the slot machines will go towards reducing property taxes. Another portion of the revenue is slated for other economic stimulus projects. However, there is absolutely no evidence that a stadium provides any sort of economic boost. In fact, studies have shown that, on average, they reduce workers’ incomes by $47 per year. Further more, a 2004 study showed that teams never need help in financing the stadiums. The stadium generate enough revenue to cover construction costs and more.

People can try to spin this, saying that it’s slot machine money and not taxes that will go towards financing the arena. I contend that with Pennsylvanians looking down the barrell of a 1% increase in the state sales tax and other ills such as our crumbling transportation infrastructure and our awful inner city crime rate, the slot machine revenue could be put to better use than helping to keep hockey, a second-rate sport, in Pittsburgh. I also contend that slot machines are just another tax, one that disproportionately affects the poor – you don’t see people with a lot of money habitually gambling at slot parlors.

Lastly, Mario Lemieux completely disrespected the people who paid money to watch him play for the Penguins during his career. The Penguins have some of the best attendance figures in hockey, and it’s a sham that he would even consider giving up standing room only crowds 17,000 strong to play rent free in front of 7,000 “fans”.

5 Responses to “Pitt-for-Brains”

  1. Cassie says:

    Right now the NHL is in trouble…recovering, but still in trouble. I think it would have been better for the penguins to move to Kansas City than to stay in a city that only half wants them. But then, i’d be heart broken if say Detroit decided not to build a new stadium for the Wings when they needed it. But detroit will never give up the Wings. Heck.. right now they are the only team we can count on to win ;~)

  2. Zeron says:

    Great, so the revenue of the Chester Casino is going to go and help build a stadium in Pittsburgh. Just what Chester needs!

  3. Brad says:

    Yep, the money comes from state-wide slot machine revenue, not just the ones local to the Pittsburgh area. Even though the state isn’t footing the entire $290 million, there is absolutely no economic benefit to the city or the state. They might as well just put the money into a big pile and light it on fire.

    And $290 million to build a hockey arena? Let’s assume that they keep it at the current capacity, around 17,000. That averages out to $17,000 PER SEAT. This is a ripoff of the highest degree.

  4. Zeron says:

    I though during the last election that Lynn Swann’s proposal for the Pittsburgh casino was to have it at a stadium (not sure if it was the Penguins facility) and the revenue from that and the block grants for the casino would help cover the costs of the stadium. Of course Rendell had a financial interest in the other site in Pittsburgh so the deal was dead from the beginning.

  5. Brad says:

    The Penguins originally had a deal with a company called Isle of Capris, who was a bidder for Pittsburgh’s slot parlor. Under the agreement, Isle of Capris would build the arena as part of a larger entertainment complex. As you said, the revenue for the arena would only come from Pitt’s casino, not the statewide take.

    Pittsburgh decided on a rival bid, leaving the Penguins out in the cold (Har-har!). That’s when Kansas City came along saying they could play in the new Sprint Center rent free.

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