Pittsburgh casino winner Don Barden joined Gov. Ed Rendell and a group of state and local politicians at a meeting tonight aimed at working out a deal on a new arena that would keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh. The Penguins representatives exited at 10:54 p.m. without making any statement.
Mr. Barden joined a contingent that included representatives of the National Hockey League team, but not its owner, Mario Lemieux. Also at the meeting were Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and Penguins President Ken Sawyer.
The significance of Mr. Barden's participation, which was not anticipated, was not immediately clear.
Mr. Barden said he came to the meeting to "observe and see if I can be helpful. I want to do everything I can to see that the Penguins stay in Pittsburgh."
The meeting, which was called by Gov. Rendell, was scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. in the State Office Building, but got started about 20 minutes late because the governor was late arriving. The significance of the Penguins' representatives' exit was not immediately known.
Upon his arrival at the session, Mr. Onorato told reporters there was a "real possibility" that a deal could emerge from the meeting, which was expected to last well into the evening.
"We're coming down here to try to finalize this deal," he said.
However, Mr. Onoroto added, a formal agreement could take days or longer, noting that there are complex issues, like leases and financing that need to be resolved.
"The important thing here is to get something done, if it's today, tomorrow or next week, as long as it gets done. Our goal is to keep the Penguins here and to get a deal that makes sense for everybody involved," he said.
Mr. Rendell declined to speak to reporters going into the meeting.
Mr. Ravenstahl said he was "eagerly anticipating the talks" but refused to speculate on whether an agreement would be reached.
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Rich Lord contributed to this report. Mark Belko can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1262.