Seattle NHL expansion owner won’t submit bid: Reports

Greg Wyshynski
The Space Needle is lit in blue and green colors of the Seattle Seahawks, and topped with a "12th Man" flag that honors fans Friday evening, Jan. 30, 2015, in Seattle. The Seahawks play the New England Patriots in the NFL Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The NHL set July 20 as the deadline for potential expansion team owners to submit their bids for teams – bids that include a $10 million down-payment, with $2 million non-refundable. 

Victor Coleman was expected to be one of those bidders, leading the effort to bring the NHL to an arena in Seattle. But Chris Daniels of KING 5 in Seattle reports that Coleman isn’t going to submit a bid to the NHL on Monday:

A source involved from the Seattle effort said Friday the Coleman group had told the NHL it wanted to finalize the arena site before submitting an application. The same source also indicated Vancouver, B.C., native Coleman hoped to "fast track" the expansion process once a land deal is completed. Coleman's camp, according to sources, also indicated it is still committed to bringing an NHL franchise to Seattle.

The issue, as usual, is that billionaire Chris Hansen secured funding from the city in 2012 for an arena with an NBA team as its first occupant. In order for that public funding to be used for an NHL-first arena, there would need to be an amendment to that ruling. And that hasn't happened yet; in fact, there are questions whether the city would agree to it at all. 

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, meanwhile, reports that a second Washington state bid couldn’t come together:

The Times has learned via a public-records request and interviews that talks on a Bellevue arena deal and bringing an expansion team there fell apart late last week. Meetings in Bellevue between top city planning officials, a company controlling the potential arena site and a longtime NHL “power broker” had centered around a possible Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) being reached ahead of the league’s application deadline.

But the company pushing for an arena deal, IntraVest Development of Arizona, and Colorado “power broker” Jac Sperling, representing a potential team ownership group, abandoned their plans and left town late last week after anticipated financing for the venue failed to materialize.

Sperling previously helped bring NHL expansion to Anaheim and Minnesota.

There are two ways to look at this.

The first, obviously, is that Coleman doesn’t believe there’s any point in submitting a bid if he doesn’t have an NHL-first arena deal, and that the NHL will still want in for a SoDo arena if that amendment to Hansen’s deal is eventually approved.

As the Seattle Times wrote: “Coleman told the league they might apply later if one can get done," but there's no word if the League would allow a bid past its deadline. 

The second is that this could be a significant setback for the two other bidders, but an opportunity for a third potential owner in Seattle. From Daniels:

Connecticut-based investment banker Ray Bartoszek has an option to purchase a swath of land near Southcenter Mall for a privately financed NBA/NHL arena. The city of Tukwila has begun the environmental review of the project and Bartoszek's camp has indicated it believes construction could begin by late this year or in early 2016. It's not clear if Bartoszek intends to submit an application on Monday either.

The NHL has indicated that it would prefer a building in Seattle, as Hansen’s arena would be just south of Safeco Field. But if that’s not in the cards, would the League settle for Tukwila in order to get a team in the market?

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