I hate to get Megan's hopes up, but multiple reports over the weekend have the Phoenix Coyotes moving to Seattle in time for the 2013-2014 NHL season if the Glendale, Arizona city council doesn't agree to a $15 million a year subsidy by July 2. The plan, which was first reported by the CBC's Hockey Night In Canada during the second intermission of Saturday's Stanley Cup Playoff game, would have the Coyotes playing at KeyArena until a new arena is built:
That plan, according to HNIC, stopped the Vancouver Canucks from moving their AHL affiliate to Seattle's KeyArena; the NHL told the Canucks that the building was spoken for.
The Coyotes have been owned by the league since filing for bankruptcy in 2009. Investors Ray Bartoszek and Anthony Lanza would reportedly purchase the club for $220 million, and former Coyote (and Philadelphia Flyers) star Jeremy Roenick would run the hockey operations.
Writing at SportspressNW.com, Art Thiel reports that Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has spoken with both the investors and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman:
“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 the statement. “As recent news reports indicate, it appears the NHL is taking the new ownership proposal seriously. 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...”
I've seen conflicting reports about KeyArena's ice hockey seating capacity—somewhere between 11,000 and 15,000—but either way it would be the smallest arena in the league. So there's no way it could be a permanent solution. But the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Chris Hansen and the city requires an NBA team to be acquired before the agreement is activated and an arena is built. No doubt the MOU could be modified to start with an NHL team, but only on the approval of both city and county councils, and I would presume a substantial reworking of the financial guarantees.
But of course, all that could be moot. We've already seen the NBA use the specter of a move to Seattle as a lever for forcing a desperation deal out of Sacramento, and the NHL might just be attempting to play the same game with Glendale. But with a July 2 deadline looming, at least this time we won't have to wait very long to learn our fate.