Limited partners in Penguins ownership group suing over sale of franchise to FSG

PITTSBURGH — Wildfire Productions, a limited partnership that is among the minority owners of the Pittsburgh Penguins, has filed a lawsuit over the sale of the franchise to Fenway Sports Group.

The lawsuit says Wildfire, which is part of the Lemieux Group, invested $5 million into owning the team and owns about 7.5%. The group says FSG intentionally interfered with the Lemieux Group’s contractual or business relationships when it approached the owners about selling the franchise.

Court documents state Wildfire is seeking damages of more than $75,000 “to rectify the harm caused by FSG’s misconduct,” a permanent injunction “against further misconduct,” and a jury trial on all issues.

A spokesperson for the Penguins sent Channel 11 a statement:

“The complaint is without merit, and we have filed a motion to dismiss.  Because of the 22 years of successful leadership provided by Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, this limited partner has been returned almost five times their original investment, and the valuation of their ownership interest increased over twelve times as a result of this transaction.  While some general partners have received millions of dollars in priority payments to run a professional sports franchise, Ron and Mario have never taken any additional compensation.  Instead, they have shared returns equally with their limited partners, and together they have made a substantial and positive impact on the City of Pittsburgh and the game of ice hockey.  This is a regrettable situation where a single limited partner is claiming rights to which they are not entitled, and it has no impact on our transaction with the Fenway Sports Group, who are fully committed to the Penguins winning in Pittsburgh for decades to come.”

Channel 11 has reached out to attorneys for Wildfire for a comment on the lawsuit.

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This lawsuit comes after the Penguins ownership group, FSG and the NHL all agreed to the sale of the franchise for a reported $900 million.