Taking advantage of the media’s insatiable demand for stories in any way related to the two cities involved in tonight’s Super Bowl, both the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Seattle Sonics have stepped up talk of relocating if they don’t receive public arena subsidies.
In Pittsburgh, it was NHL commissioner Gary Bettman waving the threat stick, telling the Pens’ radio announcer: “We never want to move a franchise, but the team’s lease expires in a year and if there’s no new building, there’s no way this club can have any future in Pittsburgh. If there’s a new arena there’s no question the team’s going to be [in Pittsburgh]. Without a new arena there’s no question the team’s going to go.” Local elected officials have been noncommital on the team’s plan to have a casino developer build an arena in exchange for getting a lucrative state slots-parlor license, but Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato says he’ll release a new arena-funding plan “by the end of March.”
In Seattle, Sonics owner Howard Schultz is telling anyone who’ll listen that he might move his team to suburban Bellevue, or relocate to San Jose, Anaheim, Oklahoma City or Kansas City, if they’re denied $220 million in arena renovation funds by the end of the state legislative session on March 9. Seattle City Council president Nick Licata insisted that the council will stick to its schedule of public meetings, which would take until April, and chided Schultz for his ultimatum: “It’s just a political play, pure and simple. They want their way and they want their way now. There is no new information they are providing, they are just saying it louder.”
In other contrived Super-Bowl-related news, today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer has an article about how to go about building a roof over Browns Stadium. According to the PD, a fiberglass roof would cost $60 million, but “if it helped bring a Super Bowl to Cleveland, the revenue generated could help defer the cost.” Or maybe the city could just take the cash and buy the local newspaper some copy editors.