Mario Lemieux is meeting with officials in Kansas City.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Mario Lemieux and other members of the Penguins' ownership group met with Kansas City officials on Wednesday, increasing speculation that the team might leave Pittsburgh.
Michael Roth, a spokesman for Los Angeles-based Anschutz Entertainment Group, which will operate the new Sprint Center, issued a statement Wednesday confirming that meetings were scheduled with the ownership group of the Pittsburgh Penguins and his organization.
Company officials declined to comment further, but a news conference was planned for today in Kansas City.
This afternoon, Lemieux and partner Ron Burkle are scheduled to meet with Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
The future of the franchise in Pittsburgh has been in question since last month when the Pennsylvania Gaming Commission rejected a slot application by Isle of Capri Casinos, which had promised to build a 290 million arena for the Penguins if its bid was approved.
Lemieux said the team, which had been up for sale, was taken off the market following the failed Isle of Capri bid. He and Burkle said they would begin considering relocation offers from cities outside of Pennsylvania.
"We are meeting with officials in Kansas City today as part of our effort to explore all of our options regarding a new arena," Lemieux said in a statement on the team's Web site. "We have heard many great things about their new building, which is scheduled to open in time for the start of the 2007-08 NHL season."
Play in NHL's oldest arena
Pittsburgh plays in the 45-year-old Mellon Arena, the NHL's oldest venue, and would have to stay there for several more years even if a new arena deal in Pittsburgh could be reached. The franchise's lease expires in June.
The 276 million Sprint Center is under construction and set to open in the fall. The facility, which will seat about 18,000, is searching for an anchor tenant but has already sold out its 72 luxury suites.
The arena is a public-private partnership between the city and Anschutz Entertainment Group, which also manages the NHL's Kings and STAPLES Center.
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