The rumored Pittsburgh Penguins sale appears to be moving quickly.
Just over a month after owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle hired Morgan Stanley to “oversee a review of their strategic options,” the Pittsburgh Business Times now reports that an investors group is expected to make an offer to buy the franchise by next week.
The identities of the bidders and size of the bid were not disclosed, although some who have done deals in the National Hockey League said the team could sell anywhere from $700 million to $850 million.
Last fall, Forbes priced the Pens at $565 million, a price many believe is low given its equity in the real estate development at the former Civic Arena site.
Given the short supply of NHL teams that are on the block and as financially stable as the Penguins franchise, “This is unusual and it’s not like there are five teams for sale,” said a professional sports investor who asked not to be identified.
After word got out last month about investigation a potential sale, Lemieux addressed the rumors in a statement.
“Our goal all along was to solidify the franchise both on and off the ice,” he said. “Our star players are signed to long-term contracts and they’ve got a deep and passionate fan base to support them, and I believe the Penguins are well-positioned for the future.
“Regardless of what happens, I plan on staying involved with the team in some capacity, and Ron and I plan to retain an ownership stake.”
Morgan Stanley is the same company that facilitated Terry Pegula’s purchase of the Buffalo Sabres in February of 2011. It’s also worth noting that the Penguins’ lease with Consol Energy Center runs until 2037 and, last month, Mayor Bill Peduto said it included “guarantees that there are no options to break it,” essentially shooting down any notion of the team relocating.