Following Chris Daniels' exciting news about NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly visiting Seattle last week to meet with Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine in person, news now trickles out about some of the conversation that took place.
Local sportscaster Tom Glasgow spoke with Mayor Murray and got a little insight into the mindset of the NHL in regards to Seattle expansion:
Murray advocated Key Arena says Bettman and Daly weren't interested. Potential local buyers have no interest in Bellevue. #NHLSeattle— Tom Glasgow (@Tom206Sports) May 15, 2014
Murray sees no desire to re-open MOU to allow hockey first..#NHLSeattle— Tom Glasgow (@Tom206Sports) May 15, 2014
Murray "I think short term they (Bettman/Daly) probably left pessimistic." #NHLSeattle— Tom Glasgow (@Tom206Sports) May 15, 2014
In his own coverage of the talks, Chris Daniels offers that the NHL initiated the meeting and that they requested that the city and county explore the option of re-drafting the MOU to a hockey-first approach. Daniels spoke with Murray and Seattle City Council president Tim Burgess and both reiterated that there is no interest on behalf of the council to do so. Both also touched on the one major sticking point in any talks with prospective hockey ownership groups:
So, we're essentially in the same place we've been for the last few months. KeyArena is not seen as a viable option by the NHL to support the award of an expansion franchise in the immediate future, even on a short-term basis as likely suggested by Murray. In addition, none of the potential ownership groups see value in an arena solution outside of the city of Seattle proper. That maintains Chris Hansen's SoDo arena project as the only game in town for both the NBA and the NHL. It was likely that Bettman and Daly's visit was a way to both feel out the current progress of the SoDo project and to see if they could perhaps knock something loose to get efforts moving. It seems they left Seattle unsuccessful.
The NHL Board of Governors are expected to get together for their annual meetings in June to discuss the business of hockey for the upcoming season. It would appear, unless something were to drastically change in the next couple of weeks, that fruitful and in-depth discussion of expansion is likely to be tabled until a later date, possibly even next year's annual meetings in June 2015.
UPDATE: Potential Ownership Group Revealed
It would appear that Bettman and Daly were not alone in their visit to Seattle.
A significantly well-capitaled potential ownership group joined the NHL brass to speak to the Mayor and County Exec about an amended MOU, as reported by KING5's Chris Daniels Thursday evening. Victor Coleman, CEO of Los Angeles-based Hudson Pacific Properties, a real estate holdings with buildings in the Puget Sound region, and Jonathan Glaser of JMG Capital Management are identified as the two principal partners in the potential ownership. They were joined by Jeff Marks of Premier Partnerships, a company chaired by Alan Rothenberg, who has significant ties to Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer, as well as served stints as representative Governor for the L.A. Lakers and the L.A. Clippers on the NBA's Board. Bettman and Daly were also joined by NHL general counsel David Zimmerman.
This would all suggest that this group is the frontrunner for an NHL club in Seattle, all but given the league's blessing by the nature of the joint visit. It is unclear if this group has yet had any communication with Chris Hansen's potential NBA ownership group or Hansen's WSA Properties, the group founded to oversee the arena project.
All in all, it's nice to put some names and faces to a big mystery, and welcome to see a group with the strong ability to get something done on the NHL front. The plot, as they say, thickens.