Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Arena, The Hill and The City

So there's an article in CP, hopefully the author won't mind me paraphrasing his point thusly... The negotiations on a CBA aren't going well. It appears that most of the points of contention are around arena jobs for Hill residents and the size of a "Hill Development Fund" to be created in association with the Arena's building. The Penguins are not active (often) in these discussions. The Penguins aren't there because they believe that they've already entered in to a contract with the city and it's the city government's job to get this squared away. The city, by signing the contract did the following:
  • "gave up their leverage"
  • Established a position of "complicity with the owners of the Penguins."
  • Failed "to support the community against these billionaires"

Are there valid points in this article? ABSOLUTELY. I believe the hill should get everything it can out of this agreement. I believe that this arena should not be built unless it makes the hill a better place. I think it is unfortunate that the Penguins are not directly involved. However, I think this article brushes by several key points:

  1. Mario Lemieux (for the most part) = "the Penguins." They're represented in this article as some no faced organization that has never done anything for the city. Mario rescued the team from a bankruptcy that would have resulted in the teams sale and more then likely departure for a larger market. He also has now payed back EVERY creditor 100% of what they were owed. Everyone, that is, except himself. He received only 66% of what he was owed in back salaries. Also, he's not poor, but he's not a billionaire.
  2. The mayor, the county and the governor had to act fast to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh. The CBA was going to take time to write. If Mayor Ravenstahl had said "wait I won't sign off on the contract till we reach a CBA with hill leaders." The Kansas City Penguins would not contribute anything but a decaying arena to the Hill District. In the agreement "The Penguins" (Lemieux) again benefit the city by staying here in spite of Kansas Cities offer, which was potentially more lucrative then the one they got from us.
  3. The agreement that the Pens signed with the city DOES specify exactly how much the team owes. If the city wants to give away anything else in these CBA negotiations it can... but the city is paying the bills.
  4. The mayor is the mayor, a CBA is necessary to avoid a lawsuit by leaders of the Hill District but the city government could proceed without a CBA if it chooses. (I think I'm right on this, can someone back me up?)

I propose we all limit our rhetoric here and try to work something out. To the Hill Leaders I would point out, "The city is doing the honorable thing by seeking a CBA and that without the 'Penguins' that you villanize there wouldn't be any excess jobs and money to negotiate about. To the Penguins I would point out, "Playoff revenues are on their way, I know you don't have to, but why not send someone to the table with a few bucks in his pocket to hand out?"

  • Oh, and on the other Hill, the Polish One... They're going green. Interesting story, surprised there's not more news about it. A quick Google search netted nothing but the Blurgh (the blog this news comes from).
  • The new Arena DOES look like a Home Depot.

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