Seattle already in talks to bring in Coyotes
Will the NHL bring a franchise to Seattle? (ANTHONY BOLANTE/Reuters)
Plans to potentially relocate the Phoenix Coyotes to the West Coast this fall were set in motion weeks ago.
Seattle mayor Mike McGinn told NBC affiliate King 5 that he and city councillors met with potential investors Ray Bartoszek and Anthony Lanza two weeks ago about possibly bringing the embattled NHL franchise to the city for next season.
Discussions got serious enough that it led to a conversation between McGinn and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman last week.
"I let him know of the situation here, and that we were supportive of bringing the NHL to Seattle," McGinn said. "We have Key Arena, so we talked about the potential of them being in Key Arena while we continue to work on a new arena plan."
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly played down McGinn's meeting with Bettman, saying the discussion was "like any number of conversations the commissioner has all the time with a variety of people."
Seattle councillor Tim Burgess, however, said he believed a tentative deal had been reached on a lease agreement for an NHL team to play at Key Arena next season. The aging multi-sport arena, which opened in 1962, is capable of seating 11,000 for hockey.
The city has a deal in place with investor Chris Hansen to build a new arena that hinges on an NBA franchise coming to Seattle. Hansen, however, previously indicated he would be open to breaking ground if the first tenant were to be an NHL team.
If the Coyotes move to Seattle this fall, they would have to play at Key Arena for at least two years.
All of this, of course, depends on whether or not the City of Glendale and the Coyotes are able to reach a lease agreement for Jobing.com Arena.
The NHL, which owns the team, has a prospective buyer lined up in Renaissance Sports and Entertainment that would keep the franchise in Arizona. The league has given the city and suitor until June 25 to strike a deal. Bettman stated last week that if no deal is reached it's possible the team could relocate.
With that in mind, McGinn didn't want to get Seattle sports fans' hopes up.
"I really want to bring down expectations," he said. "We are very clearly Plan B for the NHL and this team."