Penguins: AEG Links With Team Not Connected To Consol Energy Center Contract
The Penguins said that neither AEG's management of the Sprint Center in K.C. nor Penguins co-Owner Ron Burkle's ties with AEG President & CEO Tim Leiweke "had anything to do" with AEG's new contract to manage the Consol Energy Center, according to Mark Belko of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. When AEG won a five-year contract to manage the center starting Sept. 1, it “marked the end of a long run for SMG,” which “managed the Civic Arena for two decades and opened the new arena in 2010." Penguins COO & General Counsel Travis Williams said, "We just thought to bring us to the next level, AEG was the best fit.” AEG managed the Sprint Center in K.C. in '07 when officials there offered the Penguins “free rent, no construction costs and other inducements to leave Pittsburgh.” In addition, Leiweke and Burkle had “teamed up with others on a bid to build a football stadium in the Los Angeles area.” SportsCorp President Marc Ganis said that location was “a factor in the ability of SMG and concessionaire Aramark, both Philadelphia-area companies, to win business in Pittsburgh.” Ganis: “Just as SMG and Aramark had a foothold because of geography, I would not negate the geographic location of Burkle and his top people and AEG.” Belko noted the Penguins “decided to make the change even though the Consol Energy Center's first two years have been hugely successful.”
TOP-NOTCH: In the fiscal year ended June 30, the arena “played host to 167 events, including hockey games.” Williams said while that figure may be "well above average" for single-team venues, "We think we can continue to improve and get better." Williams added that the “concert world is changing.” The team believes that AEG, “because of its extensive arena holdings, is best equipped to handle such change.” Williams said that AEG's connections “can help Pittsburgh secure performers who may have bypassed the city in the past.” The team also is “interested in doing more intimate theater-style shows." AEG Facilities COO Bob Newman said that his company “differs from SMG and Global Spectrum in that it knows what it's like to own buildings, not just manage them.” Newman said, "We're partners. We're willing to take risks, invest in content or operational services, because we have to do it ourselves” (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 9/23).