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Fenway Sports Group reaches an agreement to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins

Keith Srakocic

Boston-based Fenway Sports Group will become the new owners of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team said in a statement today. The deal still requires the approval of the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors, a decision expected by the end of the year.

Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, who purchased the team in 1999, will remain on board. The team’s senior management, including CEO David Morehouse and COO Kevin Acklin, will continue in their roles.

Morehouse heralded Fenway Sports Group, or FSG, in a statement as “everything we could ask for in an ownership partner,” and said the company brings “the latest” in everything from sports research and player performance to “real estate development.”

The three-word phrase was the only nod to the more-than-decade-long fight to equitably redevelop the Lower Hill District, home to the former Civic Arena. FSG’s investment in Fenway Park in Boston has helped fuel gentrification in the surrounding area and pushed some residents out. Hill District residents have repeatedly raised concerns about a similar dynamic remaking their neighborhood.

City Councilor Daniel Lavelle says some amount of gentrification will occur in the area no matter what. But that’s why he and many others in the city have worked to create safeguards that will protect current members of the community.

“We’ve been intentional in supporting small businesses, we’ve been intentional in trying to support homeownership opportunities,” he said. “So that residents can actually stay, and thus benefit from the development to come.”

Lavelle said FSG called Monday to say they’re excited to meet with him and the community. Lavelle said the company’s real estate expertise and “deep pockets” could be exciting for the Lower Hill. But he said his main focus will be discussing the community commitments the Penguins have made, “and making sure that they understand that as they buy into this development, they’re buying into those goals and objectives.”

Earlier this month, Mayor Bill Peduto said the new owners would still be bound by legal commitments made to the Hill District.

State Representative Jake Wheatley and the Hill CDC did not respond to requests for comment.

FSG chairman Tom Werner said in a statement that the Pittsburgh Penguins have a great history and a vibrant fan base. “We will work diligently to continue building on the remarkable Penguins’ tradition of championships and exciting play.”

FSG owns the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Globe, the Liverpool Football Club of the English Premier League, an auto racing team, and other entertainment and real estate properties.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are on the market. That's according to a number of reports this week that current ownership is nearing a deal to sell the franchise to Fenway Sports Group, which is led by billionaire businessman and investor John Henry.