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Penguins treated fairly, authority chief says

Tuesday, August 11, 1998

By Dejan Kovacevic, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

The chairman of the Public Auditorium Authority denied the Penguins' accusations that they are not being treated the same as the Pirates and Steelers on the issue of venue naming rights.

"We understand that we need to help the Penguins," Tom McCargo said yesterday. "But that doesn't mean we're going to be stupid."

In November, the Penguins had negotiated a deal with Allegheny Power to sell the utility the naming rights for the Civic Arena for $5 million over six years. The arena would have been renamed Allegheny Energy Dome, but the Public Auditorium Authority, owner of the building, balked, complaining that board officials had not been made aware of the deal and that some of the money should be shared. The authority will also own the new baseball and football stadiums.

The Penguins, who have made a second proposal to Allegheny Energy, have accused the authority of a double standard because the Pirates and Steelers are being allowed to sell their own rights and keep all profits. Bill Craig, the Penguins' vice president of business development, said five days ago, "We just want to be treated fairly."

McCargo maintained that the Penguins had been treated fairly and that their largest obstacle in selling the naming rights for their facility is not the Public Auditorium Authority, but rather Spectacor Management Group, the Civic Arena's landlord, which is entitled to share in ventures such as the sale of naming rights.

"That's the only thing that made the first deal die. The Penguins and Spectacor didn't agree on how much to share," McCargo said. "That's something the Pirates and Steelers don't have to worry about. They are the tenants in their new buildings. The Penguins are a subtenant.

"We're not against them getting naming rights, but they have to work out their own issues with Spectacor, then come to us. We will treat them no differently."

McCargo was asked why the Penguins would be asked to share their naming rights profits with the Public Auditorium Authority while the Pirates and Steelers would not.

"This helps to build the facilities," he said of naming rights for the baseball and football stadiums. "The Civic Arena is already there. And, you should know, we're not asking for an unreasonable amount."

McCargo also criticized the Penguins' methods in negotiating their naming rights deal last November.

"It was kind of a joke, really," he said. "They don't own the building, but they were changing its name without coming to us. That's like renting a car from Avis, then changing the color of the paint. Then, when you take it back, you say, 'What? You don't like the color?' It wasn't handled very well."

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