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Mayor says Penguins arena deal getting closer, but not done yet @NHLdotcom

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Penguins are getting closer to finalizing a new arena agreement with state and local leaders, but mayor Luke Ravenstahl said Thursday there is no timetable for a deal.

Governor Ed Rendell, Allegheny County executive Dan Onorato and Ravenstahl hope to hold the third in a series of negotiating sessions with the team soon, but no meeting has been scheduled.

"This is something that, when we get the opportunity to speak once again, could happen at any time," Ravenstahl said. "Or it could take a few more weeks. I don't want to put some kind of artificial timetable or time frame on the deal, or the agreement." Considerable work needs to be done before an agreement is completed to build the new US$290-million arena to replace 45-year-old Mellon Arena, the mayor said.

"When we get the chance to get back together, we'll be able to talk more specifically about the details of the deal," Ravenstahl said.

The Penguins have declined to comment on the negotiations, which appeared to hit a snag Jan. 18 when they walked out of a negotiating session that included Rendell, Onorato and Ravenstahl. The team was unhappy about being asked to share parking and Mellon Arena site redevelopment revenue.

However, no team officials are known to have made a return trip to Kansas City, where Penguins chairman Mario Lemieux, co-owner Ron Burkle and team president Ken Sawyer visited last month before the Pittsburgh negotiations.

The team has threatened to move to Kansas City if a new arena deal in Pittsburgh is not reached within a few weeks - even though the NHL wants the team to stay.

Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie backed out of a $175-million deal to buy the Penguins in December when the NHL insisted he agree contractually to not move them.

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