Coyotes Moving to Seattle? Not so Fast

Mark BrownContributor IFebruary 16, 2012

Former Coyote Jeremy Roenick maintains Phoenix is a viable hockey market.
Former Coyote Jeremy Roenick maintains Phoenix is a viable hockey market.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The hour is long gone for continued blame on the Phoenix Coyotes’ dismal financial record.

Sure, the Coyotes have improved on the ice over the past three NHL seasons, but have failed dramatically to gain success at the gate. That has lead to filing Chapter 11 by Jerry Moyes, a previous owner, and for the league to take control of the franchise.

At the recent All-Star game in Ottawa, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters he remains committed in keeping a team in Phoenix, and does not appear worried that any individual appears close to securing the franchise.

Relocation venues have been repeatedly rumored, and sites from Quebec City, to Seattle and points in between, remain the focus of attention.

Since several interested parties, including the NHL, the city of Glendale and the team's players, would like to remain in the American Southwest, their hours in the desert could now be in serious jeopardy.

That is, of course, if you believe Christopher Hansen.

A hedge fund manager with Seattle as his hometown, Hansen is in the process of making a $290 million proposal to the city of the Seattle to build a new arena, and house the facility with both NBA and NHL teams.

In a prospectus filed with King County, Hansen wants $290 million be put up by private investment as part of a proposed arena cost, which is between $450 million and $500 million.

By contrast, the Coyotes’ home rink of Arena has a current price tag of $175 million.


There will be no arena unless there is an agreement to get a team here to occupy that arena over a very long term," Dow Constantine, a King County (Wash.) executive told the Associated Press.

Aside from the Coyotes as a possible tenant, Seattle would also court the NBA franchises in Sacramento and New Orleans. Both the Coyotes and Hornets are owned by their respective leagues, and the NBA and NHL have said they favor no relocation of these franchises.

On February 11, before defeating the Chicago Blackhawks, the Coyotes retired Jeremy Roenick’s number, 97. In meeting the media prior to the ceremony, Roenick,who played seven seasons with Phoenix, made it clear he wants the Coyotes to remain in the desert, and indicated that he’s retained several business associates who have interest in keeping the Coyotes right where they presently skate.

“Bettman is committed to keeping them here and I think we’ll find the right owner,” Roenick said. “Yes, I believe Phoenix can support a hockey team, and the fanbase is definitely here. We sold out constantly when we played at American West Arena (now US Airways Arena, home of the Phoenix Suns). The passion is here.”

The Seattle deal is far from finalized, and this is contingent upon Hansen finding teams willing to relocate first. Then, once teams are in place, King County executives said they would look into the feasibility of a new area.

That could take some time. The mechanics of municipal action are slow, and the hour is close for decisions on the sale of marginal franchises.

On Feb. 28, the Sacramento city council is scheduled to vote on diverting parking revenues to pay $200 million for a new arena. If that goes through, Hansen would have to heavily pursue New Orleans for his NBA team, and lure the Coyotes to the Pacific Northwest.

At this point, neither move appears certain.

EDITOR’S NOTE - Quotes from Jeremy Roenick were obtained by the author prior to the Chicago at Phoenix game Feb. 11, 2012.