Myron Cope, the legendary former Pittsburgh Steelers broadcaster, challenged part-owner Mario Lemieux to keep the Pens in town by writing an editorial in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Wednesday
In the article, Cope told Lemieux to "consider emulating the chief -- the late Art Rooney Sr."
Rooney is known for publicly rejecting offers to move the Steelers out of Pittsburgh. The Penguins are considering such an offer from Kansas City, where a new arena will be ready for them to play in next season.
"Perhaps unfairly, I'm asking that you disregard bottom-line offers and keep the Pens here, simply because it's the right thing to do," Cope wrote in his editorial.
So far, Lemieux has not responded.
Later Wednesday, Cope told WTAE Channel 4's Sally Wiggin why he penned the newspaper piece.
"I couldn't resist the urge to put something in writing," Cope said. "Although I'm said to be retired, it takes me three times as long to accomplish something in my old age, so I'm busy all the time. I'm like a full-time worker. Am I going to sit there and try to run down Mario? Who knows where Mario is? I don't know if he's around the corner or in Alaska, so I wrote a letter and they decided to use it as a column."
Gov. Ed Rendell, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and the Penguins' owners all say they're continuing to negotiate on a so-called "Plan B" for a new arena in the city.
But Cope told Wiggin that the politicians are just trying to play catch-up with Kansas City.
"I don't think there ever was a Plan B," Cope said. "It was a case of, well, if we get to that point, we'll make one up. Mario now has... a chance at getting a much better offer than he would have, had the politicans, the political leaders, Rendell, Onorato and then-Mayor (Bob) O'Connor not remained silent for all this time."
Plan B includes the use of public money -- along with contributions from the Penguins and casino owner Don Barden -- to build the arena.
"I can see where taxpayers could be angered, certainly, and people who don't care about hockey," Cope said. "But in my opinion, the benefits of a major league team are tremendous."
Though California billionaire Ron Burkle owns the biggest piece of the Pens, Cope said he thinks Lemieux's name carries enough weight and respect that he could convince Burkle and the other partners to swing the deal in Pittsburgh's favor.
"I'm pretty good at spending other people's money, and in Mario's case, asking him to take possibly the lesser of two offers," Cope said. "But he's a good guy, and I'll continue to think of him as a good guy regardless of what he does."
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