Phoenix Coyotes: Does Imminent Seattle Arena Pave Road to Relocation?

Jordan MatthewsAnalyst IIIFebruary 16, 2012

According to King 5 News, Seattle officials and other development managers will be announcing a plan to build a new sports venue in Seattle.

According to The Seattle Times, the plan calls for construction to hold both NHL and NBA teams.

This is obviously great news for a city that had lost the Seattle Supersonics because of building reasons. However, this is just a formal announcement of the plan that still needs to be approved by Seattle City Council members. 

This could also prove to be major news for the NHL that is currently in a mess of an ownership issue with the Phoenix Coyotes.

The league has owned and operated the Coyotes for over two years now, charging the City of Glendale a $25 million fee to cover losses under the agreement that they'll keep the team in Arizona and search for new ownership.

The $25 million fee hasn't exactly covered the NHL though. Last season the Coyotes lost $11.6 million.

Obviously, despite putting a good product on the ice, the Coyotes are in rough shape. The team currently ranks last in the NHL in attendance—drawing in just 11,829 fans per game.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says he has three different buyers interested in keeping the team in Glendale, which may be true.

However, the clock is ticking, and it's highly unlikely that the NHL will try to keep Phoenix alive after this season. If the team isn't purchased soon, the NHL will soon be looking at outside buyers.

Obviously, Quebec City would like to return to the NHL. But the issue there lies in the fact that they don't have an NHL-ready arena, nor do they even have plans of building one.

Kansas City, Missouri may be in the mix as well, since they have an NHL-ready arena that was just built a few years ago.

If Seattle's plan is approved, they may be the front runner for a Phoenix relocation. Being so close to Canada, they would likely be insured a good audience and financial stability—and they would automatically spark a rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks.

If Seattle were to take over the Coyotes, they would likely have to remain in Phoenix for at least one more year while the arena is fully constructed.

It's very improbable that the NHL would allow Seattle to operate in Key Arena, which reportedly seats just 10,500 people for hockey games.

Nonetheless, it's very exciting news for the citizens of Seattle. It could mean a new NHL franchise in the very new future.


Jordan Matthews writes for the NHL and for the Detroit Red Wings, you can read his recent articles here:

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