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Report: Penguins, government agree on new arena deal @NHLdotcom

PITTSBURGH (AP) - The Pittsburgh Penguins have reached a deal with city, county and state officials on financing for a new arena, a television station reported Monday night.

KDKA-TV, citing unidentified sources, said the deal is "done" and will be announced before Tuesday's game against the Buffalo Sabres at Mellon Arena.

Penguins officials didn't immediately return calls for comment, nor did a spokesman for Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato.

A spokesman for Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said he knew nothing of a deal.

"I never heard that. I heard nothing like that," Dick Skrinjar said.

A spokesman for Gov. Ed Rendell refused to confirm the deal.

"I can't confirm a report of any settlement," Chuck Ardo said. "The sides have communicated since last Thursday. This is an ongoing process."

Team and elected officials met last week in Philadelphia, along with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. The sides then issued a joint statement saying they had a "very constructive meeting where significant progress was made."

The sides agreed to meet again on Wednesday. KDKA said that meeting is still on schedule, but only for minor details to be ironed out.

The television station reported that the new arena will be more expensive than the US$290 million projected by the Penguins.

Rendell had said he thought the arena could be built for about $270 million, and the two sides were said to be haggling over how and whether to add an extra $20 million to a bond issue needed to fund the arena.

KDKA reported that the bond issue questions have been settled, along with other details, clearing the way for a new arena.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, citing unidentified sources, says the deal includes a 30-year lease and calls for the arena to be completed by the start of the 2009-10 NHL season.

The Penguins have threatened to leave Pittsburgh if they can't secure a new rink. Their lease at 46-year-old Mellon Arena, the oldest facility in the league, expires June 30 and the team is free to leave after that.

Team owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle have visited Kansas City, Mo., and Las Vegas to field arena offers from those cities.

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