To Mario Lemieux, Ron Burkle, Ray Shero and the entire Pittsburgh Penguins organization,
We hope 2008 is finding you well. Before we go any further, congratulations on the winning streak!
Neighbors in your community, self-organized into the One Hill CBA coalition and into other bodies, have come together to ask of you that you share some investment resources throughout the greater Hill District, on targeted initiatives.
We do not know the details of their needs, desires and priorities -- but we are writing to tell you that the principle of partnering with these neighborhood groups is sound, and that finding ways to invest in many of their ideas can only work to the benefit of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
We are also writing to stress that given the history of large-scale development in Pittsburgh's Hill District, and given the community's experiences depending upon the government infrastructure to follow through on promises, it is critical in this instance that any pledges of support be backed up with signatures on paper.
Governmental officials of the city and county are likely to oppose the idea, on the principle that all of your cash ought to be funneled directly into the government infrastructure, where it will be invested wisely. We know they will also cast aspersions on the motives these Hill District groups, and play up minor divisions between them.
First we ask that you judge One Hill and others on the basis of what they bring to you, not on what we are told through the media and through government officials.
Second, we ask that you judge the government infrastructure on the basis of their own history in the Hill District and their more recent track record in the region.
We are confident you will make the right decision.
Imagine, for a moment, a Hill District with an encouraging, small-scale development boomlet going on, extending from the Penguins arena to the east, and embedded within the neighborhoods.
Imagine providing a bedrock for city residents that may have grown up mistrustful of you, but are now pursuing lifelong dreams because of you -- dreams like grocery stores and active community centers, humble dreams of the sort people desperate to improve their community dream.
We see the Mario Lemieux this and the Sydney Crosby that scattered throughout the neighborhood. We see a meaningful African-American fan base developing that will dynamically increase merchandising and will be a vanguard movement in the National Hockey League.
We see an opportunity -- after ongoing rounds of investment deliberations, after many successes and some failures -- we see the Penguins elevated to the most rarified strata of historic Pittsburgh entrepreneurism, which includes not just the Rooneys, but the Mellons and the Schenleys and many others as well. We have a rich history.
Again, we are sure you'll make a wise decision.
If you are impressed and intrigued by what your One Hill neighbors bring to the table, please consider delaying action at the Planning Commission for another week or two, in order to iron out details and get something in writing.
The history of this situation, of Hill District residents receiving assurances from their government, requires in this case some form of binding CBA between themselves and the Penguins. It is critical that their agreements be treated with dignity this time.
The Pittsburgh Comet