Cuban said Thursday he joined a group headed by New York
financier Andrew Murstein after several of his high school friends
also aligned with Murstein.
Murstein is the president of Medallion Financial Corp., a
company that finances New York City taxicab medallions and
originates consumer loans. Also included are principals in
Pittsburgh-based Walnut Capital, a real estate management and
Walnut Capital CEO Gregg Perelman recently partnered with Cuban
to buy a nine-story downtown Pittsburgh office building.
"I'm just a minority investor and then we'll go from there.
It's not an active role, it's not the Mavericks," Cuban said at a
Mavericks function in Dallas. "Honestly, some of my friends that I
grew up with were active in this group, that's why I got involved
with it. Guys from high school."
Cuban said the Murstein group approached him, not the other way
around, because it knew of his interest in Pittsburgh sports. Cuban
grew up in suburban Mount Lebanon, Pa., and was interested in
buying the Penguins before Mario Lemieux's group purchased the team
in federal bankruptcy court in 1999.
"I mean, the goal is to help keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh,"
Cuban said. "That's goal No. 1."
During a recent appearance on the David Letterman show, Cuban
showed off his Pittsburgh roots by wearing a Ben Roethlisberger
Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino also has aligned with the
Murstein group, one of at least five believed to be interested in
buying the Penguins. Like Cuban, his financial involvement is not
expected to be substantial.
The Penguins are expected to be sold before the start of the
2006-07 season in October. One issue is the lack of a new downtown
arena the Penguins have been attempting to secure since Lemieux
bought the team.
A casino firm has agreed to build the arena with no tax money if
it secures the license for a downtown slot machine parlor. Gov. Ed
Rendell and county and city officials also are trying to develop an
alternative plan if the license is awarded to another of three
Murstein plans to keep the team in Pittsburgh even as an arena
deal is completed. Other prospective Penguins bidders likely would
move the team if arena financing isn't in place by the end of the
2006-07 season. The Penguins' Mellon Arena lease expires next year.