Penguins franchise still looking for buyer

Longtime Penguin Mario Lemieux is a primary owner of the franchise, along with Ron Burkle. (Keith Srakocic/AP)

The sale of the Pittsburgh Penguins is proving to be a slow process.

But that’s not surprising, according to a former lawyer of the team.

“I’m not surprised at all, because these are very valuable assets and there are complications, particularly if the buyer is someone who hasn’t been involved in professional sports in the past,” former Penguins lawyer Bob Caporale told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It may take time to do their due diligence. Frankly at this time of year, as you know vacations and so forth will always slow things up. I’m sure in the fall things will get more active.”

The team’s primary owners, Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, made their intentions to sell known in June. Since then, things have appeared to be quiet.

One complication appears to be the uncertainty surrounding whether the adjacent land and accompanying development deal is included in the sale. (When the deal to build Consol Energy Center was made in 2007, the Penguins also obtained the development rights to the land where the old Civic Arena stood.) Its inclusion would affect the price and timeline of the sale.

Though Caporale is not directly involved with this current sale — the Penguins retained Morgan Stanley to start the process of exploring sale options in June — he does have plenty of experience, as his company brokered the sale of the St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators, as well as some NBA and MLB teams.

“I really don’t want to opine on the value specifically,” he said. “All I will say is that the Penguins are a very successful NHL franchise and I would anticipate that ownership will be looking for a value that’s consistent with the success that the entity has had as well as the hockey team.”

Caporale also explained the modern trend is for franchises to be purchased by groups of investors rather than individual owners, which can draw out the process.

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