The Penguins and Luzerne County Convention Center Authority have reached an agreement in principle on a 10-year lease extension to keep the Penguins' AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, both parties announced Monday afternoon.
The Penguins' current lease in Wilkes-Barre was set to expire June 30, but a decision had to be made by Monday's AHL Board of Governors meeting. The agreement comes after nearly a year of negotiations, which focused on points like securing funding for new Wi-Fi equipment in the arena and $1 million in arena improvements.
“The agreement in principle is the culmination of months of hard work by the LCCCA and the Penguins,” LCCCA Board Chairman Gary Zingaretti said in a team release. “We are proud of the result and look forward to working with the Penguins for the next decade.”
“The iconic and historic Pittsburgh Penguins hockey franchise will continue its long partnership with Luzerne County in delivering high quality AHL hockey to the fans of Northeastern Pennsylvania,” said Pennsylvania State Senator John Yudichak. “I am grateful for the relationships we have been able to forge with the Penguins executive team in Pittsburgh, and here locally, that clearly made these complex, but fair negotiations beneficial to both the Penguins and the taxpayers of Luzerne County.”
“The Pittsburgh Penguins are excited to extend our long-term partnership with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the many fans and community partners who have made it such a success,” said Penguins CEO and President David Morehouse. “We especially want to thank Senator John Yudichak and Authority Chairman Gary Zingaretti for their leadership and support. As we like to say in Pittsburgh, this is a ‘Great Day For Hockey.’”
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have been affiliated with Pittsburgh and have played at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza since the team's inaugural season in 1999.
Wilkes-Barre has qualified for the playoffs in 17 of the teams' 20 seasons, only failing to qualify in the 1999-00, 2001-02, and 2018-19 seasons. The team is still searching for its first Calder Cup, but has reached the Final three times -- 2001, 2004, and 2008.
Wilkes-Barre averaged 5,549 fans a game during the 2018-19 season -- 15th in the league and significantly less than the 8000-plus averages of the team's early seasons.