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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Mike DeFabo

Source: Penguins in 'advanced talks' to sell team to Fenway Sports Group

PITTSBURGH — The Penguins are engaged in “advanced talks” to sell the team to Fenway Sports Group, a source told the Post-Gazette on Tuesday.

Ron Burkle, who purchased the team out of bankruptcy in 1999 along with Mario Lemieux, is expected to sell his controlling stake in the team to FSG.

Meanwhile, Lemieux is expected to remain part of the ownership group in some capacity, likely a minority ownership role. The Hall of Fame center will also continue to be involved on the hockey side.

The club’s senior management is also expected to remain intact. That includes the CEO/president David Morehouse and COO and general counsel Kevin Acklin.

FSG, backed by billionaire Red Sox owner John Henry, is expected to vote Thursday to sign off on the deal, according to reports from the Wall Street Journal and Sportico. The agreement will also need NHL approval.

Terms of the deal, including how much FSG will pay for their stake, have not been revealed.

Lemieux and Burkle initially acquired the team in 1999 during a crossroads moment in the franchise’s history. After relocation offers were explored, the Penguins and local government officials in 2007 agreed on a new stadium deal to keep the team in Pittsburgh. The arena, which is currently called PPG Paints Arena, opened three years later.

Under the ownership of Lemieux and Burkle, the Penguins won three more Stanley Cup titles, bringing their total to five, and have become one of the NHL’s marquee franchises. Captained by superstar Sidney Crosby, they were valued at $845 million in Sportico’s most recent valuations, ranking 15th in the league.

However, the Penguins, like most North American professional sports teams, have taken a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. Early in the pandemic, they furloughed some employees and accepted a $4.8 million loan through the Paycheck Protection Program. And last month, their 14-year sellout streak came to an end.

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