Lemieux: “Pennsylvania Taxpayers are Suckers”

This is somewhat old news, but its new to me: Mario Lemieux admitted in August that he never thought of moving the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was still able to extort Pennsylvania taxpayers on threats to do so.

Mario Lemieux said the Penguins were never serious about leaving Pittsburgh.

“It wasn’t a possibility,” Lemieux said during a groundbreaking ceremony today for Pittsburgh’s new $290 million hockey arena.

“We had to do a few things to put pressure on the city and the state, but our goal was to remain here in Pittsburgh all the way. Those trips to Kansas City and Vegas and other cities was just to go, and have a nice dinner and come back.”

As readers will recall, those threats earned Lemieux and the Penguins a great deal – in which state taxpayers pick up the bulk of the cost of his new stadium. Lee Wishing had a fantastic commentary at that time on Mr. Lemieux, and the business leaders looking to government for free money. 

Despite evidence upon evidence that sports stadiums don’t result in increased economic growth, these extortion efforts work, and politicians like Governor Rendell freely hand out other people’s money out of fear of a sports teams moving.  It isn’t just sports franchises that appeal to the corporate welfare mentality; witness the effort to help filmmakers who, like Lemieux, admitted they would film in Pennsylvania regardless of the state aid.