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Up next: the NHL's Penguins

The next sports franchise available in the relocation sweepstakes appears to be the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL. This story by Mark Belko points out that the Penguins' lease at Mellon Arena expires next summer, and that the owners "can begin shopping the team next month." I have a hunch the marketing is already under way.

As noted here last week, Kansas City has a new arena in waiting. Belko suggests that Houston, Las Vegas, and Hartford may also have an interest in the team. Now that player wages have been suppressed by the new CBA, competition for the franchise should be strong.

But the local action is particularly brisk, given the pending award of slot machine licenses in the state of Pennsylvania. The Penguins have teamed up with one potential licensee, Isle of Capri, who have pledged $290m for a new arena in return for the monopoly license for Pittsburgh. But Pennsylvania's governor apparently prefers an alternative mechanism (or licensee - there are several bidders for the slot license).

This has all the makings of an incredible farce. We have politicians in various cities committing public money, in the hope of entering a league whose entry restrictions serve to raid the public purse. Add to that Pennsylvania's creation of a slot monopolist in Pittsburgh, and now a big chunk of those profits will fuel the bidding war for the hockey franchise. It's a good time to own the Penguins, and you can't blame them for playing by the rules. But, I must say, what a country!

Thanks to Publius for the link.