Lemieux, Burkle make offer to purchase Pirates

Mario Lemieux at the Stanley Cup parade - Bob Donaldson, Post-Gazette
Mario Lemieux at the Stanley Cup parade - Bob Donaldson, Post-Gazette

Dejan reports this morning that Penguins’ owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle made an offer to buy the Pirates four months ago. Bob Nutting repeated that the team is not for sale.

Honestly, I’m not sure there’s a situation to describe,” Mr. Nutting said last night when asked about the meeting. “I like Ron. He’s an extremely competent businessman and deal-maker, and we’ve talked about a wide range of topics. But I think the simplest way to say this is that there never has been a substantive or formal offer for the team. The team is not for sale.”

I understand why Pittsburghers would assume that if Lemieux owned the Pirates, the team would automatically begin to win.  He has done some amazing things in this city, both on and off the ice.  But I doubt that much would change with how the team operates.  Even with Burkle’s deep pockets, it is unrealistic to expect them to operate in the red.  That is rare in sports ownership.

The aspect of this situation that will be ignored is the method the Penguins followed to build a championship team.  They acquired their impact talent through the draft (Crosby, Malkin, Fleury – McCutchen, Alvarez).  They traded fan favorites for more talented players (Armstrong – Nyjer).  They signed a young player to an extension after some early success, then traded him to improve the team (Whitney – McLouth).  They let go of quality players because they did not fit in the budget (Malone, Scuderi – Bay).

Bob Nutting is not going to sell the team.  Until we see any indications that this will change, it is not really worth discussing.




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