It’s unclear where the Phoenix Coyotes will play next season.
During a press conference Wednesday before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he hopes to have some clarity on the situation at its Board of Governors meeting on June 27.
The league has owned the franchise since 2009 and several attempts to sell the team has failed. A potential ownership including George Gosbee and Anthony LeBlanc are in line to buy the team for $170 million, but they’ve been unable to secure a deal with the City of Glendale to play at the Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes, formerly the Winnipeg Jets, moved to Phoenix in 1996. The team has played in Glendale since 2003. The NHL wants to keep the team in Arizona, but has reportedly considered moving to Seattle or Quebec City.
“We’re getting to the point where some decisions are going to have to be made,“ Bettman said. “Time is getting short. … This is really going to be a decision that the City of Glendale is going to have to make.”
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly added: “It’s possible the team won’t play there next year. We’re in the short strokes in Phoenix now. … I think everybody knows kind of what’s on the table and I think the puck is pretty much in the City of Glendale’s end with respect to how they want to deal with that.”Daly added the the release of next season’s schedule is delayed in part due to the uncertainty with the Coyotes. Glendale’s city council is scheduled to meet June 25.
“There are a number of markets that have been expressing interest in us over the years,” Bettman said. “The phone keeps ringing more regularly the longer that the Coyotes situation stays unresolved.”
If the Coyotes were to move, a report in the Hockey News said Seattle would be the favored destination.
The report states: “Moving to Seattle would keep the Coyotes in the west and maintain the integrity of realignment. It would also give the NHL an opportunity to get a foothold in the new $490 million arena that is going to be built in Seattle before the National Basketball Association moves in.”
If the Coyotes moved to Seattle, they would have to play at Key Arena, which seats seat roughly 11,000 for hockey, in the short term.
There’s also no guarantee of a new downtown ever being built in Seattle. The Memorandum of Understanding between the city and Chris Hansen, who wants to bring an NBA team to the city, calls for an NBA franchise to be acquired before construction begins.
After his failed attempt to purchase the Sacramento Kings, Hansen noted the MOU would need to be amended if a hockey team were going to be the first primary tenant at the new arena. He’s also said he has no intentions on buying a hockey team, but is open to working with potential hockey owners.
It appears Hansen and Microsoft mogul Steve Ballmer have turned their focus on buying an NBA expansion franchise, according to Tim Montemayor of KGO Radio in San Francisco
“Several NBA sources in the know tell me there have been productive talks on expansion in Seattle,” Montemayor tweeted Wednesday. “As the league preps for a new TV deal they have discussed a timetable but have not settled the issue.
“I am also told the H&B (Hansen and Ballmer) group are aware of a working plan to return the NBA to Seattle and were told as much and acknowledged their preference to have a new franchise at the end of the NBA Kings saga.
“Only reason expansion would be “likely and viable” in Seattle it is believed Hansen is one of the few or the only one who can overcome the hurdles put forward in Seattle. The passion that had him fighting so hard will be counted on to complete the process in Seattle.”