This morning, ESPN's Craig Custance reported that Ray Bartoszek is, as we suspected, the man behind the push to build a multi-purpose arena in Tukwila. Bartoszek, via his company RLB Holdings Sports and Entertainment, filed a code interpretation request with the city and is expected to file a SEPA application this Friday. The target date top open the arena is the fall of 2017.
Bartoszek's partners in the venture are former MulvannyG2 CEO Jerry Lee and two basketball legends with ties to the SuperSonics, Fred Brown and Hall of Famer Bill Russell, leading to speculation that the group would target an NBA team in addition to the NHL.
According to Custance's report, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has been in constant contact with the Bartoszek group, and met with them earlier this month in New York. Bettman called Bartoszek a "substantial, smart person who is passionate about the game," however he continued to deny that expansion is on the table, saying "We're having conversations to the extent that the interested parties want to talk to us. It hasn't gotten beyond that."
The proposed site is near the Sounder Station, making public transit very convenient. It is located just off exit 1 of Highway 405, east of the West Valley Highway. The commute from downtown would only take 10 to 15 minutes.
Chris Hansen's SODO arena is still on schedule to have their FEIS published on May 7. This puts even more pressure on making sure that deadline is hit, as well as putting some pressure on Victor Coleman to present a more concrete NHL plan. For now, we continue to wait, but things are definitely heating up. Whether this plan serves as simply kindling for the fire under the feet of Seattle, or actually winds up being the future home of sports in the Puget Sound area, remains to be seen.