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Could Coyotes really relocate to Seattle?

Geoff Baker Seattle Times

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Just like most games of the Stanley Cup Final so far, the city council here is headed to overtime to see whether it can reach a deal to keep the Phoenix Coyotes.

But the fact that talks will now continue beyond Friday – which one local columnist had described as “D-Day” for the future of the Coyotes – could signal a blow to Seattle’s hopes the club might relocate there.

An executive session of the Glendale city council met Friday morning and a spokesperson emerged just after noon to say talks would continue into early next week with prospective new owners of the National Hockey League club. The sides have been given until July 2 to formally approve an arena lease agreement, or the league has warned of a Plan B option that includes relocating the Coyotes to Seattle in time for next season.

The NHL has owned the Coyotes since they sought bankruptcy protection four years ago. The team’s current potential buyers, Renaissance Sports and Entertainment, need to first reach a lease deal with the city to continue to use municipally owned Jobing.com Arena.

Renaissance is said to be seeking up to $15 million per year in revenue guarantees from the city. The city has budgeted for only $6 million and the sides are seeking ways to bridge the gap.

If they can’t do it, the NHL has warned it could sell the team to New York hedge fund investors Ray Bartoszek and Anthony Lanza, who would move the Coyotes to Seattle. But the feasibility of such a move remains in question, given the Coyotes would have to play in a temporary facility – 11,000-seat KeyArena being the most likely choice – and hope a new arena could be built.

As of now, there are no plans for that, though a memorandum of understanding between the city and businessman Chris Hansen had been signed allowing for an arena project if Hansen can secure an NBA franchise. Officials say the memorandum could be modified to allow the project to proceed if an NHL team is landed, but the likelihood of getting it done before teams open training camp in September is far from certain.

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