Was Mario Bragging?

I’m often read the Pittsburgh City Paper and a recent editorial by one of its writers, Chris Potter, got my attention. Please take a look at it. The column also reminded me about one of the major stories from last week that may have gone under the radar.

The Penguins finally broke ground on the new arena and after the ceremony, Mario Lemieux was asked the negotiations which took place to make this day happen. Negotiations that included trips to Kanasas City. Mario admitted for the first time these trips were merely an effort to pressure local and state lawmakers. In his words “Those trips to Kansas City and Las Vegas and other cities weer just to go, have a nice dinner and come back”.

There is little doubt those “trips” played a key role in getting the arena deal done. Potter’s column takes issue with Mario not for taking us behind the scenes of how these moves played in getting the deal done, but for bragging about his slyness and his ability to pressure lawmakers to get on board with his plan. I have to agree with Chris on this one.

While Mario may have not been intentionally bragging, he has made no secret of his disdain for politicians in his quest for a new building. However, there is no need to talk up how he put these lawmakers feet to the fire to get what he wanted. It’s hardly the way to break ground on a new building. In essence, it makes Mario no better than the politicians he has openly criticized.

It’s a small criticism on my part but its one that I have of a man who I have admired. Mario came here as a young man, learned the language, resurrected a franchise as both a player and as an owner, beat cancer and has helped to raise millions in the battle against this dreaded disease. The arena will be Mario’s lasting legacy, but with the comments he made on groundbreaking day the building is not starting out on solid ground.

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