Pittsburgh Penguins sale price tag? Might be NHL record $750 million

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MISSISSAUGA, ON - NOVEMBER 09: Hockey Hall of Fame member Mario Lemieux signs autographs for fans at the Sportcard & Memorabilia Expo on November 9, 2013 in Mississauga, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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MISSISSAUGA, ON - NOVEMBER 09: Hockey Hall of Fame member Mario Lemieux signs autographs for fans at the Sportcard & Memorabilia Expo on November 9, 2013 in Mississauga, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

When it was revealed that Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle were selling the Pittsburgh Penguins – moments before Gary Bettman gave his State of the NHL speech at the Stanley Cup Final, no less – the speculation began about how much this glamour franchise could bring in. 

The initial projections had the price somewhere between $700 million and $850 million, which is crazier than trading Simon Despres for Ben Lovejoy.

Rick Westhead of TSN, however, has zeroed in on what might be the actual asking price for the Penguins:

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The owners of the Pittsburgh Penguins are asking $750 million (U.S.) for the team, but face long odds of finding a buyer who’s willing to pay that much because of the flagging North American economy and uncertainty over the future of the Canadian dollar, sports investment bankers say.

A $750-million transaction price would mark a record for a U.S.-based NHL team, said Drew Dorweiler, a Montreal economist who has been hired by the owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Manchester United and other sports teams to estimate their franchise values.

Keep in mind that the Penguins partnered with the city on Consol Energy Center, but that the sale of the franchise will include the development rights to the area around the former site of the Civic Arena, across from Consol.

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Westhead reports that his financial sources wonder if the Penguins can find a buyer, given how the NHL’s overall fiscal stability might be challenged by the lack of stability for the Canadian dollar. Bill Daly of the NHL denied that: "Canadian dollar would not play into a transaction like this at all.”

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