Rendell says arena deal 'very close' but adds caution

Governor says projected price has gone up

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Gov. Ed Rendell comments on arena discussions with the Penguins:
It's a slow process
The Kansas City factor
If the bid for the arena is more than expected
No city or county money in expanded bond issue
Loyalty of the Penguins fan base


Gov. Ed Rendell said today that a deal with the Penuins to build a new arena is "very close" but cautioned the team could still end up in Kansas City.

The governor also revealed that the bond issue to fund a new arena has gone up $20 million.

Mr. Rendell made his comments before a speech this afternoon at Station Square.

"It's still somewhat precarious although I'm very optimistic that we're close," he said of the negotiations between the team and government officials.

"The attitude of the Penguins has convinced me that they want to stay here," he added.

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman has been involved in the talks for the past two to three weeks and has been serving as a go-between. He has been involved because he wanted "to see this brought to a head," Mr. Rendell said.

"I can only say we're making progress. We keep narrowing the issues and I think we're very close."

One continued stumbling block is the guaranteed maximum price of a new arena and how much the Penguins would pay for any cost overruns.

Mr. Rendell revealed the amount of a state bond issue anticipated to finance construction has risen $20 million to $290 million. He said that is necessary as a contingency in case the cost exceeds current projections. He said all parties would have to share the pain of the increase.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


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