A report from the New York Post has brought to light the fact that the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are valued at over $600 million, received nearly $5 million in funding through the Paycheck Protection Program as part of the CARES Act in 2020.
The New York Post report says that the Penguins are the only professional sports team to receive a loan under the program among 123 professional sports organizations in the “Big Four,” which includes the NHL, MLB, NFL, and NBA.
A search of public records on a COVID Bailout Tracker website shows that the Lemieux Group, LP, which owns and operates the Penguins, received a loan of $4.82 million through First National Bank.
When reached for comment by The New York Post, the Penguins said:
“With our arena being ordered closed since March and without any event revenue, we requested that our landlord, the Sports & Exhibition Authority (SEA), consider a temporary deferral of our annual rent payment due in September. This request was denied,” the Penguins replied.
Accordingly, we borrowed $4.8M under the CARES Act program in mid-August and applied the funds to our $6.1M September rent payment to the SEA, which was used by the public agency to make its required bond payment.
“The SEA indicated it is facing similar financial difficulties due to the closure of the SEA-owned Convention Center, and we are pleased these funds were used to support an important public agency during these challenging times.”
“Our furloughs were in effect from June to September,” the organization said. “We brought back staff on Sept. 1 to prepare for next season.”
Should more paycheck funding become available in the future with more COVID-related legislation passed by Congress, it will be interesting to see if other teams and organizations will apply for and/or receive funding.
In May, the team announced it was temporarily furloughing employees and also announced pay reductions for team President & CEO David Morehouse, as well as senior executives and coaches. According to a December 2020 article by Forbes, the Penguins generated $14 million in operating income in the calendar year of 2020.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle purchased Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch for $22 million.
As of now, local and state regulations prevent fans from attending games, but it is unclear if or when that may change in the fluid and ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.