Text of Jim Balsillie's letter to Mario Lemieux

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This is the text of a letter sent yesterday to Mario Lemieux by Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry wireless device, who last week withdrew his bid to buy the Penguins but wants to resume negotiations.

Dear Mario:

I watched your recent news conference and I deeply regret that you have interpreted our inability to reach an agreement as an offence to you or the team. That was certainly never my intent and I apologize. Despite recent difficulties, I continue to be very interested in the team and in working towards an arena deal that is a benefit to the team and to the City of Pittsburgh.

You have fought with the local politicians for many years to get an economically viable arena deal which would insure the future of Penguins hockey in Pittsburgh. It is a city with a great hockey tradition and a solid fan base.

Incredibly, the government chose to ignore a brilliant plan and rejected $290 million in private money in favor of spending hundreds of millions of hard-earned taxpayers money.

I have a team ready to immediately start negotiating Plan B. On our side all of the papers have been signed and everything is in place to close our transaction immediately but for the NHL Consent Agreement. However, we must move quickly. Every day that is lost is a day which can be used to negotiate an economically viable Plan B. It would be a tragedy if delay narrowed the options and resulted in a sale to someone who would immediately seek to relocate the team.

Given all that has happened this week, I was hoping you would agree to go arm and arm with me to the Commissioner and make one last effort to get our deal done.

You are a hero to the people of Pittsburgh. They are looking to you to do everything possible to save their team. I will respect whatever decision you make in this regard.


Jim Balsillie


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