SEATTLE -- Snagging the troubled Phoenix Coyotes hockey franchise here in Seattle won't be the empty-net goal some have suggested.
A deal to keep the Coyotes in Glendale, Ariz., fell apart last week when prospective buyer Greg Jamison failed to secure financing in time to meet a Jan. 31 deadline. Jamison has vowed to continue pursuit of the franchise, but is expected to meet considerable opposition from a newly elected Glendale mayor and town council that has already spoken out against the favourable conditions attached to the previous deal.
Seattle would definitely be a top candidate for a relocation of the Coyotes, but as things currently stand, Quebec City appears a more viable destination, given the speedy time frame involved. For one thing, Quebec already served as home to a National Hockey League franchise with the Nordiques from 1979-80 through the 1994-95 season and has broken ground on a $400-million arena.
"People in the league want to see how serious people are in the project, and that there won't be any going back or (backing out)," former Nordiques owner Marcel Aubut, who is spearheading a bid to bring the NHL back to his city, was quoted in news reports last week. "When you have a building, it shows there is no going back. The people working on the project are the ones who took the risk by working towards the building."
It's doubtful the NHL would give the go-ahead for the Coyotes to relocate to Seattle without assurances that an NBA team is coming and that construction on the new arena can begin. When it comes to a temporary arena where a relocated Coyotes franchise could be housed, Quebec again has an edge over Seattle's KeyArena.
Quebec would house its new NHL franchise at the Colisee Pepsi, a 15,176-seat venue that served as home to the Nordiques for 15 years and has continued to host international tournaments and major junior hockey in recent years. The new arena package has already set aside $7 million to refurbish the Colisee as a temporary home to any new franchise.
In Seattle, the 15,177-seat (for hockey) KeyArena has never been used for NHL games.
-- The Seattle Times