Well, according to this article, the negotiations between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Pittsburgh/Pennsylvania government officials has reached a happy ending.
This after the greedy Pens owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Buerkle publicly and insultingly declared an impasse mere days ago.
I’m concerned about the negotiation lessons that people will try to draw from Lemieux and Buerkle’s adversarial approach to the negotiation. At a glance, it appears that bullying and threats were the way to go.
I believe that same urgent meeting in Philadelphia could have been held and produced the same results without the tough-guy tactics that are akin to Chris Simon’s recent stick attack on a New York Ranger.
So why did Lemieux and Buerkle resort to these tactics?
One reason may be that it was a good opportunity to Buerkle to establish himself as a feared negotiator for future business deals. He probably wants others to think “Don’t tick this guy off – he’s a loose cannon.”
Another interesting thing I want to point out about the negotiations is that, in the “impasse” letter, Lemieux and Buerkle cited the $3.6 million in annual rent and $400,000 in annual capital improvement payments and claimed that “We can do no more.” However, according to the article linked at the beginning of this post, the Pens agreed to pay $3.8 million in rent, $400,000 in capital improvement payments, and $500,000 for a parking garage.
So when suppliers say “We can do no more,” take it with a grain of salt. Because if that [sarcasm]esteemed negotiator[/sarcasm] Governor Rendell can get a better deal from a supposedly tough negotiator like Buerkle, you can too.
One last complaint: I despise how the politicians are saying no taxpayer money is being used for this arena. $15 million per year is coming from funds generated by State requirements that allowed gaming in our state. That money could have been used for other taxpayer-benefitting programs, so arena funds are essentially funds out of our pockets. It also could be used to reduce the PA income tax that Rendell raised early in his first term.
Is having this particular team – as opposed to an expansion or relocated team – playing in Pittsburgh really the highest priority for the people of Pennsylvania? A higher priority than education, helping other businesses that can create jobs, or even having safer roadways?
There should be a T-shirt that says “I let gambling and all of its baggage into my hometown and all I got was this lousy arena.”