Houston drops out of bidding for Penguins
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As state and local political leaders prepared for talks tomorrow with officials of the Pittsburgh Penguins, a city that was interested in having the team move there said it was dropping out of the running.
City of Houston officials said the city was dropping its pursuit of the team for now, saying it could not compete with a new offer from Kansas City.
Michael Moore, chief of staff to Houston Mayor Bill White, said Kansas City had "sweetened substantially" an earlier offer to the Penguins that included free rent and half the building revenues at the new Sprint Center.
"We want an NHL team but we're not going to give everything away," he said. "We're not going to get into this bidding war back and forth."
He said one factor is that Houston already has the National Basketball Association Rockets playing at the Toyota Center, while Kansas City is trying to fill an empty arena.
Earlier in the day, Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle met with Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman to explore a possible move. Mr. Goodman has been seeking to bring a National Basketball Association or National Hockey League team to Las Vegas.
"They had a very pleasant conversation," said Elena Owens, special assistant to the mayor.
She did not know how long the parties met or whether they planned to meet again.
In Las Vegas, the Penguins most likely would have to play in the 23-year-old Thomas & Mack Center until city officials find funding to build a new arena. The Thomas & Mack Center was used for the NBA All-Star Game and won anything but rave reviews from NBA Commissioner David Stern, who said the league would not return to the arena.
More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
First Published March 7, 2007 12:00 am