Federal Way Mirror


SIDELINES: Phoenix Coyotes will remain in Arizona, Seattle out of luck once again

Federal Way Mirror Sports editor
July 3, 2013 · Updated 2:12 PM

The city council in Glendale voted to enter into a lease agreement with the Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday. It means the team will remain in Arizona and not come to Seattle in the fall. / Courtesy photo

Something that really didn't get a lot of attention is the fact that Seattle was in line to get a National Hockey League (NHL) team.

No joke. The city of Seattle and KeyArena even cleared all the dates for next year's NHL season.

But, in a decision that shocked nobody, there will be no professional hockey team playing in Seattle next year. The city of Glendale, Ariz., voted late Tuesday to approve a lease agreement to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona for the next 15 years.

The decision ended Seattle's slim hopes of bringing a hockey team to town. It was also the second time a professional league has used our great city as a bargaining chip in the past few months.

I'm still stinging from losing out on the NBA's Sacramento Kings earlier this year. The reincarnation of the Seattle SuperSonics would have been a huge deal because I had grown up as a fan of the team. I lived and died with Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp and their deep runs in the playoffs during the 1990s.

I would have loved for my kids to have a professional basketball team to root for, like I did.

I really have no clue about professional hockey. I have never been to an NHL game and never really had the urge to go watch. But, as a sports fan, it would be very awesome to have another professional team in Seattle to go along with the Seahawks and Mariners.

The saga of the Phoenix Coyotes is a strange one. It really looked like Seattle and KeyArena were used as a pawn by the NHL to keep the Coyotes in Arizona.

The league gave the city of Glendale, where the Coyotes currently play, until Tuesday to ratify a new arena lease, or the team was moving (supposedly).

Tuesday night's vote by the Glendale City Council was 4-3 in favor of awarding a lease deal that keeps the team at Jobing.com Arena until 2028. The council set a deadline of Aug. 9 to close the deal.

Had the vote gone against the new deal, the currently ownerless Coyotes — to whom the city has given $25 million over the past four years while cutting parks, police and fire services — might have found a new home in Seattle.

“There was a lot of speculation,” Glendale Councilman Manny Martinez was quoted as saying after the meeting. “I would just say to them (the people of Seattle) good luck in the future, maybe they can get another team there.”

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said recently that if the deal didn't get done in Arizona, the team could move to Seattle. Other cities like Hamilton, Ontario, Quebec City and Kansas City were also expected to make serious bids for the franchise.

The whole thing is something that sounded eerily similar to what Seattle went through earlier this year with the NBA. Our great city, which includes super-rich people from Microsoft and Boeing, along with a top-15 television market, was being used as a bargaining chip by the NHL.

It was all gamesmanship by the NHL to get the best deal from Arizona and leave Seattle swaying in the wind yet again.

But the vote by Glendale might have been a blessing in disguise for the Pacific Northwest. Even if the Coyotes moved here, KeyArena is not configured for hockey, and the proposed arena that would have held the Seattle SuperSonics might never get built if an NBA franchise isn't awarded.

Seattle also didn't have an ownership group put together for the NHL team - which was completely opposite from the bid by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer to move the Sacramento Kings to town.


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