Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has acknowledged recent discussions with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
The conversation happened after two New York based investors met with McGinn, and Seattle city councilmembers two weeks ago about potentially bringing an NHL team to Key Arena this fall. Ray Bartoszek and Anthony Lanza told leaders they were seriously examining the prospect of buying the Phoenix Coyotes and moving them to Seattle.
McGinn said they were serious enough, that it led to a conversation between him and NHL Commissioner Bettman.
"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 would not characterize the discussions between McGinn and Bettman, and told KING5 the conversation was "like any number of conversations the Commissioner has all the time with a variety of people."
The NHL owns the Phoenix Coyotes, and has a prospective buyer, but has given the city of Glendale, Arizona until June 25th to work out a new lease arrangement. Bettman has said it is possible, that if no deal is reached, the team could relocate.
The team would play at Key Arena for at least two years. A Seattle Center spokesperson said last week the Arena still had its icemaking and chilling equipment operational. The Arena would seat 11,000 for hockey.
Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess said Sunday he met with Lanza and Bartoszek a couple of weeks ago in Seattle. He said the duo was "optimistic and positive" about Seattle. Burgess also said he believed a tentative deal had been reached on a lease agreement so an NHL team could play at the Key this fall. Burgess said oft-mentioned Chicago investor Don Levin was not a part of the delegation which met with city leaders.
McGinn said, while the news is encouraging, "I really want to bring down expectations. We are very clearly Plan B for the NHL and this team. I feel compelled to say this after the experience we had with Sacramento than the likelihood of us having a team here in a couple of weeks is low."
Investor Chris Hansen has indicated, in a previous interview with KING5, that he would be open to starting construction of a new arena with an NHL team as the first tenant. Hansen unsuccessfully tried to acquire the Sacramento Kings franchise last month. The Memorandum of Understanding calls for an NBA franchise to be acquired before public funds can be used to break ground on a new arena. A source close to the situation said Sunday it is unclear if the MOU would need to be amended to start construction with an NHL team first.
"We'll have to cross those bridges when we come to it," said McGinn.