If plans fall apart in Arizona, the Phoenix Coyotes appear to be headed to Seattle. Mayor Mike McGinn recently met with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and investors who want to purchase the hockey team and move it to Seattle.
“Our message to all parties has been the same: We believe we can support an NHL team as a tenant at KeyArena and as a potential tenant of a new arena, subject to all parties reaching agreement on terms,” McGinn said in a statement.
Two weeks ago, McGinn and the Seattle City Council worked out a tentative deal with investors Ray Bartoszek and Anthony Lanza for the use of KeyArena for the 2013-14 season if they can to secure the team and relocate to Seattle.
According to a Canadian Broadcasting Corp. report Saturday, the Bartoszek-Lanza group would pay the NHL, which owns the franchise, $220 million for the Coyotes. The report also said the new ownership group would also bring in Jeremy Roenick to run the hockey operations.
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However, Seattle is still Plan B for the Coyotes. The NHL’s first choice is keeping the Coyotes in Glendale, Az., where they’ve played since 2003. The league has a deal to sell the franchise to Renaissance Sports and Entertainment, a group led by George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc, for $170 million, but they’ve been unable to reach an arena agreement with the Glendale officials.
“It appears the NHL is taking the new ownership proposal seriously,” McGinn said. “But we also know from experience that it may be some time before an NHL team is located in Seattle, as the home city for the Phoenix Coyotes is working to keep them.”
Recent reports indicate Gosbee and LeBlanc’s group may be close to a financial deal with the city. If the two sides can’t reach an agreement by a June 25 Glendale City Council meeting, however, Bettman indicated relocation is an option.
According to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. report, Bartoszek and Lanza would negotiate with Glendale until July 2 before moving to Seattle. McGinn said the hockey investors were introduced to Seattle officials by a representative from Chris Hansen, the investor who wants to bring an NBA team here.
KeyArena, which seats 11,000 for hockey, isn’t an ideal location for the NHL and would likely be a short-term option in Seattle. Hansen has a deal with the city and King County to build a $490 million downtown arena, but construction cannot begin until an NBA team is secured.
Councilman Tim Burgess isn’t sure the project would begin with a hockey team as the primary tenant. He noted it would be a “substantial change” to the city’s agreement to go forward without an NBA team.
“Relying on an NHL team alone would not be a strong enough foundation,” Burgess said.