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Pittsburgh casino resumes construction … and that’s good news for the Pens

In a way, it’s the most important news of the summer for Pittsburgh’s new hockey arena.
The most important action of the summer in the ongoing Pittsburgh arena story may not have been when the shovels hit the ground across the street from Mellon Arena.

A similar event on the north side of town might have bigger ramifications. Construction is expected to resume soon on a casino that is scheduled to open next May. The state Gaming Board approved Don Barden’s request to transfer the license to developer Neil Bluhm. Barden could not meet debts nor pay contractors, thus leaving the $780 million project in limbo.

Also in limbo was Barden’s promise to send $7 million a year for the next 30 years as part of the payment for the arena. Bluhm said he would honor Barden’s deal if he got the casino license. The Gaming Board held up the request until a hearing could be held on the subect.

At the hearing, Bluhm caused a minor stir by saying he is going to change some of Barden’s ideas regarding slots. But it wasn’t enough to bother the Gambling Board, which approved the deal unanimously.