Fenway Sports Group reaches agreement to acquire control of Penguins

Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan reacts to the news that the Fenway Sports Group has bought controlling interest in the team, says they're very excited for this opportunity, as FSG has a great reputation and even better track record for success.

Fenway Sports Group LLC, the parent company of the Boston Red Sox, has reached an agreement to acquire a controlling interest in the Pittsburgh Penguins, both parties announced Monday.

Before the deal can become official, the NHL and its board of governors still must grant its approval. The league’s 32 owners are slated to meet next in December.

“The Pittsburgh Penguins are a premier National Hockey League franchise with a very strong organization, a terrific history and a vibrant, passionate fan base. We will work diligently to continue building on the remarkable Penguins’ tradition of championships and exciting play,” Tom Werner, the chairman of FSG, said in a statement. “We are particularly excited to welcome Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle to FSG and have the utmost respect for all they have done to build the Penguins into the perennially successful franchise we know today.

“We look forward to working with Mario, Ron and the entire Penguins front office team.”

Terms of the deal have still have not been disclosed at this time. The Penguins were considered the 15th most valuable NHL franchise at $845 million, according to the sports business site Sportico’s most recent valuations. The NHL’s average franchise value is $930 million.

The Penguins boast one of the NHL’s biggest names in Sidney Crosby and three Stanley Cups since 2009. The team’s on-ice success as translated to business growth as well, with an average of 7.8 per cent of Pittsburgh TV homes tuning in for Penguins games and home-game sellout streak that spans 14 years and over 630 games.

The Penguins have been owned by NHL legend Mario Lemieux, who won two Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh as a player, and American businessman Ron Burkle since 1999, when the pair purchased the team 10 months after it filed for bankruptcy. Lemieux famously made his proposal to buy the Penguins after retiring in 1997 due to health issues, before returning in 2000 to become the first player-owner in NHL history.

Lemieux will retain an ownership stake in the Penguins and a leadership role with the franchise. Burkle, the franchise’s current co-owner, will be retaining a stake in ownership as well and senior management will stay in place.

Fenway Sports Group, which is controlled by the American businessman and investor John Henry, also owns Liverpool F.C., New England Sports Network and half of Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing of Nascar.

“As the Penguins enter a new chapter, I will continue to be as active and engaged with the team as I always have been and look forward to continuing to build on our success with our incoming partners at FSG,” Lemieux said in a statement. “They have an organizational philosophy that mirrors the approach that worked so well for Ron and me over the past 22 years.”

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