As Seattle waits to see if a new arena plan will go through, the rumors of the NHL expanding to the Emerald City continue to gather. So when commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly were spotted in the city last week, radars went off with another round of speculation.
The NHL’s top two dogs were in town to meet with Seattle mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine. They were joined by a group led by real estate magnate Victor Coleman, who is interested in bringing a team to Seattle.
The Coleman-led group is the third known group interested in bringing the NHL to Seattle. However, the physical presence of the NHL’s top leaders, at a meeting in Seattle, likely solidifies their status as front runners. Ray Bartoszek, a minority owner of the New York Yankees, who holds business and personal ties to Seattle, was close to bringing the Phoenix Coyotes to Seattle last year. Don Levin, owner of the minor league Chicago Wolves, has also expressed his interest in owning a team in Western Washington.
Coleman’s group is believed to be interested only in a team in Seattle and not in Bellevue. Murray reiterated that in a short interview on the subject with KING 5 Thursday.
According to the Seattle Times, the meeting took place as a status update and to see if the city council would rework the Memo of Understanding so that an NHL team would be brought to Seattle’s still-to-be-built arena first before an NBA one. That doesn’t appear likely.
Businessman Chris Hansen and a partner have agreed to partially fund the new $525 million arena, but that’s with a basketball team coming in.
Bettman recently said, via ProHockeyTalk, that the arena picture in Seattle needed to be clearer in order for the NHL to consider the possibility of a team coming there. KeyArena won't cut it. He also continues to say the league isn't looking at expansion, but visits like these keep the league aware of the individual situations of markets in case owners want to increase from 30 teams or franchise relocation is needed.
Seattle has always been rumored to be one of the top destinations for expansion/relocation, and while there might be interest in bringing a team there, the arena issue is one that needs sorting if the city is to remain on the league's radar.