The decision on where the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will officially be located for the 2019-20 season will finally be decided this coming Monday, May 6.
As covered extensively by our very own WBS writer David on the site over the past season, the biggest question mark for the Baby Pens heading into their offseason was if the team would continue hosting their home games at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre Township, or if a contract extension with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization and the Luzerne County Arena Authority Board would ultimately fizzle out and the team would be forced to move.
Negotiations have been ongoing for quite some time now, and on Monday, the AHL’s Board of Governors will meet in Chicago to discuss where each NHL franchise’s affiliate will be playing in 2019-20, establishing a hard deadline for WBS’s team executives to meet. AHL vice president of communications, Jason Chaimovitch, declared that each team must finalize and confirm where they’ll be playing at that meeting, or opt to relocate their franchise.
According to the Times Leader, Chaimovitch still has yet to hear from the Wilkes-Barre-Scranton franchise on a final decision.
Additionally, on the team side of things, Pittsburgh and WBS have been in constant communication:
The Pittsburgh Penguins organization and the arena authority have been negotiating an extension to their contract, which expires at the end of June. No details of those negotiations have been released to the media or public, but both sides have claimed progress and an intent to get it resolved soon.
There has been speculation that the major stumbling block to a new deal has been the length of the contract extension — authority wanting a new 10-year extension and the Penguins seeking a lesser number of years. There has also been reports that the Penguins have asked for significant improvements to the arena facilities. None of the reports could be confirmed.
The WBS Penguins just wrapped up their 20th season in the market since they began playing in Mohegan Sun Arena back in 1999.
“What I do know is getting a deal done is a priority, and they are working on a resolution that I would expect to come in the very near future,” said chief executive officer of WBS, Jeff Barrett. “I know Pittsburgh and the Authority are in negotiations. I’m hoping they come to a resolution shortly.”
Dedicated fans of the Baby Pens are likely relieved that a decision will be finalized straight away. It’s best to get it taken care of now, regardless of whether it ends up as a positive or negative outcome, rather than letting it drag on throughout the spring so that ticket sales aren’t unfairly infringed upon.