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Monday, June 17, 2013

NHL Could Move Phoenix Coyotes to Seattle in Time for 2013-2014 Season

Posted by on Mon, Jun 17, 2013 at 12:10 AM

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, 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.


Comments (27) RSS

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The Coyotes will be in Seattle, it is just a matter of when, not if. Proof: When the Vancouver Canucks were looking for a new home for their farm team, they wanted to locate it in Key Arena. According to Hockey Night in Canada, they couldn't because the NHL told the Canucks that the building was spoken for.

Bettman and Co all know that hockey in Glendale can’t work long term, they just want time to get their ducks in a row with the long term Seattle solution, and have Glendale pay for the delay in the interim.

They want to negotiate with Hansen for a lease deal in the new arena from a position of strength (eg. We can move to Quebec ya know) rather than already being in Seattle stuck in Key arena and having to accept a bad lease deal from Hansen.

That is why they are pushing so hard to stay in Glendale in the meantime - the one sided no penalty out clauses in the lease deal with Glendale are the obvious clues that the NHL wants out in the next 3-5 years.
Posted by CowPacific on June 28, 2013 at 11:45 AM · Report this
I'm wondering if the prospective owners who want to relocate to Seattle have done any due diligence on the Key?

As much as I want the NHL in Seattle, I suspect as a few others that we're being used as pawns to push the Glendale City Council to agree to a deal that provides massive subsides to the Coyote owners.

That being said, over time, the demographics, unlike those of 17 years ago when Seattle previously had a shot at the NHL, have improved with more transplants coming from cities with the NHL such that a contending team will do well, and not barely better than the T-Birds.
Posted by neo-realist on June 17, 2013 at 2:06 PM · Report this
@23 as a real hockey fan, I do care. The Key is horrible venue to watch a game.
Posted by searunner on June 17, 2013 at 11:08 AM · Report this
Fnarf 24
@13, the audience for a Seattle NHL team would barely overlap with the Thunderbirds audience.

@14, yes, I know -- we were undercapitalized. But the stadium was laughably sub-par, woefully small even after the emergency rickety additions that were slapped on in preparation for 1969. The two things are not really separable, since the crappy stadium was the result of undercapitalization too -- and haste, which is what's wrong with this NHL plan.
Posted by Fnarf on June 17, 2013 at 11:08 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 23
Oh, please @22, real hockey fans don't care.
Posted by Will in Seattle on June 17, 2013 at 11:06 AM · Report this
@ 18 It's part leverage and part necessity. The NHL can no longer own and operate the franchise. Either Glendale works out an agreement with the NHL's approved ownership group or the team needs to relocate for next season. So, it's not surprising the NHL has been in talks with ownership groups for other cities. What is surprising is that Seattle is the prohibitive favorite to land the Coyotes. We're not ready for an NHL team... the Key is a horrible place to watch a game.
Posted by searunner on June 17, 2013 at 10:47 AM · Report this
Tingleyfeeln 21
I think the Tacoma Dome would be a better option for a temporary home. Larger capacity and seating fully surrounding the rink.
Posted by Tingleyfeeln on June 17, 2013 at 10:43 AM · Report this
The report out of Glendale is that the city and Coyotes have agreed to a deal in principal, and that agreement would cover 15 years and there doesn't seem to be a 5 year out-clause...…

Of course this being Glendale and the Coyotes, who the hell knows what will happen.
Posted by searunner on June 17, 2013 at 10:35 AM · Report this
biffp 19
Raffi is staying with San Jose if he has his druthers.
Posted by biffp on June 17, 2013 at 10:32 AM · Report this
biffp 18
With the wording of the MOU, I worry this is to get leverage on Glendale. The League has dragged this Phoenix situation out way too long, and should be looking for a permanent solution. That said, if there is a group with cash, maybe they are desperate enough to get out of ownership to do this. The ability to move fast could be huge.

The Key does seem like a solution for one season max. It's not a good venue for watching hockey. I had no idea about the soft ice, but if they can play an outdoor game in Dodger Stadium, this should be something that could be addressed with a chuck of cash. For those unfamiliar with Gary Bettman, he's a lawyer. The Key would not be a concern of his. The lawsuit from Glendale filed the next day would be his type of concern.

It's fun to think about. I like the Coyotes, and I would go to at least half the home games. I think Seattle could support hockey if it got a contending team. I don't know that an expansion franchise and 5 years to a winning season would work out. Still, I'd only give this a 5% chance.
Posted by biffp on June 17, 2013 at 10:29 AM · Report this
Megan Seling 17

But Phoenix can keep Raffi Torres.
Posted by Megan Seling on June 17, 2013 at 10:19 AM · Report this
Goldy, why ignore I 91 issues. And why keep referring to mou guarantees when there is a five year term limit on hansen so called.guarantee?
Posted by No subsidies for stadiums! on June 17, 2013 at 10:18 AM · Report this
@12 no I didn't know that, and it sounds terrible. I just meant that it isn't physically too small to fit a regulation ice rink, which is how other reports I've read on the subject have made it sound. If it's even darker than the old bad lighting in the ends of Madison Square Garden that would be really awful. (they finally fixed that via a huge renovation project last year).

@13 I have never been closer than a 12 hour drive or so to Seattle so I don't understand what you're talking about. :)
Posted by fsb on June 17, 2013 at 10:15 AM · Report this

It's nowhere near that simple. As Bill Mullins describes it, there were about a dozen factors that conspired to doom the Pilots. In and of itself, Sick's Stadium was a very small contributor. Here's the program blurb about Bill's research presentation at the upcoming SABR convention in Philadelphia (emphasis added):
RP31: The Flight of the Pilots
Bill Mullins

What caused the Seattle Pilots to move to Milwaukee after only one year? By adding archival research and interviews to newspaper accounts and an array of secondary sources, Mullins brings insights into baseball politics, city politics, and the business of baseball to analyze the Pilots’ flight. He ultimately puts the greatest onus of the Pilots failure on the American League’s haste in granting a franchise to a city that was not entirely prepared to support major league baseball, combined with an ownership unwilling to endure losses.

Bill Mullins is Professor of History Emeritus at Oklahoma Baptist University. He received his B.A. from Pomona College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington. His recently published book Becoming Big League: Seattle, the Pilots, and Stadium Politics is a history of Seattle and the Pilots baseball team that left the city after only one year of play. This paper is based on research for that book. Bill lives in Federal Way, Washington and is a member of the Northwest Chapter of SABR (NWSABR).

Here's a link to Bill's book.
Posted by N in Seattle on June 17, 2013 at 9:50 AM · Report this

Please tell me. Do you think area hockey fans are more likely to be gliding in from a pied a terre apodment on First Hill, or driving the family in from Kent or Lynnwood in an SUV and hoping to find free on street parking.

If you answer (a), then you've never been to a Thunderbirds game.
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on June 17, 2013 at 9:41 AM · Report this
Fnarf 12
@8, have you ever seen a hockey game at the Key? It IS too small. One end of the ice is under the overhang of the seat deck. It was designed this way for the remodel on purpose, because Ackerley didn't want competition for his Sonics.

The ice under the overhang melts. It's dark. It's soft. It's barely playable at all. Players throw up sprays of water, not just ice. Minor league teams could (barely) cope with it, because they're kids and are used to ill treatment, but NHL? Ugh. They're going to laugh at us.

If they remodel the seat deck again, it's going to reduce the capacity even further. 9,000? That's just ridiculous. We would be the laughingstock of the league either way. I'm old enough to remember Sick's Stadium and how a grossly inadequate facility helped kill the team after just one season.
Posted by Fnarf on June 17, 2013 at 9:30 AM · Report this
Where do I sign up for season tickets to the Metropolitans?

PS. to Goldy -- Roenick was a star, even a superstar, with the Black Hawks, a solid player with the Coyotes, and a fading veteran with the Flyers.
Posted by N in Seattle on June 17, 2013 at 9:28 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 10
If the billionaire buys that team can he name them the Sonics and declare victory?
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on June 17, 2013 at 9:03 AM · Report this
Fnarf 9
Yeah, the Coyotes are going to love playing on the soft ice under the north end overhang.
Posted by Fnarf on June 17, 2013 at 8:32 AM · Report this
@7 it isn't literally "too small" it's just that the footprint required would only leave space for 11-15k seats as mentioned in the article. Most modern NHL arenas I'm aware of hold 17-20k people.
Posted by fsb on June 17, 2013 at 8:31 AM · Report this
I thought Key Arena's footprint was too small for an NHL hockey rink.
Posted by DOUG. on June 17, 2013 at 8:18 AM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 6
Do it! Do something.... (see @5)
Posted by ArtBasketSara on June 17, 2013 at 7:57 AM · Report this
This seems like a much more credible relocation to Seattle threat than the NBA thing, the Phoenix situation has been a complete disaster for 5 years now (financially, the team is actually pretty good) and the other NHL owners must be getting really sick of bleeding money to allow the league to keep operating the team as part of a long term market growth strategy. I understand why they've let it go on so long (especially since they've been able to extort pretty large amounts of public money from the city up to now) but I bet their time is just about up.
Posted by fsb on June 17, 2013 at 7:41 AM · Report this
Rotten666 4
You really going to get your hopes up?

Seattle sports fans are gluttons for punishment.
Posted by Rotten666 on June 17, 2013 at 7:39 AM · Report this
pdonahue 3
Go Sonics! Take the Mariners with you!
Posted by pdonahue on June 17, 2013 at 7:08 AM · Report this
That's a better plan. The good things is your ready, whatever happen.

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Posted by Trixie146 on June 17, 2013 at 2:50 AM · Report this
Puty 1
I was wondering when this post would go up. That's a good organization. You guys would be lucky to get it.
Posted by Puty on June 17, 2013 at 12:27 AM · Report this

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