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Arena Issue Dominates Gaming Hearing

19 April 2006

PENNSYLVANIA – As reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: "State gambling regulators came to Pittsburgh on Tuesday expecting to hear proposals for a slots parlor in the city, but talk about a new Penguins arena dominated the first day of public hearings.

"The casino applicants staked out familiar positions while presenting their cases to the state Gaming Control Board for the first time.

"Don Barden, the Detroit businessman behind Majestic Star Casino, said he would open a temporary riverboat casino within six months of winning the license.

"Isle of Capri Casino, which has partnered with the Penguins, said it would open a temporary land casino within nine months. And the backers of Harrah's Station Square Casino said they would bring gamblers from around the world to play at a Pittsburgh casino.

"None of those promises drew as much attention as the bidders' commitments for building an arena. Isle of Capri has offered to pay $290 million for an arena, while Majestic Star has agreed to pay $7.5 million a year for 30 years.

"Harrah's, which has not offered anything for an arena, said it supports Gov. Ed Rendell's proposal in which it would be required to pay $7.5 million a year as well. But its backers said they first want a commitment that the Penguins will stay in Pittsburgh.

"…After the applicants spoke, Allegheny County Chief Executive Dan Onorato said he was 'declaring victory' on the arena issue and added that it is 'off the table.'

"…Team President Ken Sawyer did not share that optimism. The Penguins, he said, are committed only to Isle of Capri's plan…"

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