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Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Updated: March 16, 1:21 AM ET
With arena in works, Lemieux no longer plans to sell

Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- With a new arena deal finally in place, Mario Lemieux and his partners no longer plan to sell the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The former Penguins star and Hall of Famer bought the Penguins with a group of investors in federal bankruptcy court in 1999.

They first put the team up for sale in 2005, but a proposed buyout by venture capitalist William "Boots" Del Biaggio -- a friend of Lemieux's -- fell through.

Three months ago, Lemieux and partner Ron Burkle negotiated an estimated $175 million sale of the 40-year-old franchise to Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie, but he pulled out within a few days of the planned closing date. He apparently balked at the NHL's insistence that he couldn't move the franchise even if an arena agreement wasn't reached.

Selling the Penguins would have allowed Lemieux to escape blame if the team had relocated.

The Penguins were free to move after their Mellon Arena lease expired in June, but a deal to build a new $290 million arena was finalized on Tuesday.