BY SPNW Staff 11:57PM 07/04/2014

Gretzky wants to be involved in Seattle NHL bid

According to the New York Post, Wayne Gretzky has joined a group of investors hoping to bring a National Hockey League team to Seattle, despite the fact that commissioner Gary Bettman said expansion is not on the league’s agenda.

The Gretzky group is one of three looking to bring an NHL franchise to Seattle, where there is no NHL-sized arena, although Seattle native Chris Hansen is attempting to build a basketball/hockey arena in SoDo. The Post said its sources do not know if the Gretzky group or either of the other two groups are seeking an expansion team or hope to move an existing team.

A move to buy a Seattle team would mark at least the second time the 53-year-old Hall of Famer tried to become an NHL owner.

In 2011, Gretzky partnered with a New York private-equity firm in a $1.5 billion bid for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NBA Toronto Raptors.

However, the NHL rejected the group’s offer because it would have been structured as a leveraged buyout with debt levels higher than 50 percent of the franchise value, which is against NHL rules.

Bettman in May visited Seattle to learn the status of Hansen’s project, but found out that Mayor Ed Murray and the city council are so far not interested in advancing the NHL bid ahead of Hansen’s desire for an NBA team first.

“He needs a team to get the arena off the ground,” a source close to the situation said.

Gretzky declined comment to the Post.


YourThoughts

  • RadioGuy

    Gretzky will bring more star power than money muscle to the party, but it can’t hurt to have the highest scorer in hockey history in your corner. And it may be worth revisiting the MOU to allow an NHL team coming in first to trigger the arena’s construction. The NBA isn’t coming anytime soon and an NHL franchise would cost a LOT less than an NBA team will now anyway. This isn’t the time to get stubborn about insisting the NBA beat the NHL to Seattle if you want an arena.

    Might be worth studying what an upgrade to KeyArena or the Tacoma Dome as a temporary facility would cost, too. The Dome has the seats, the Key has the amenities but neither has the sightlines.

    • art thiel

      Hansen can’t advance his arena plan without a team, and the NHL won’t commit to expand unless the arena gets a go-ahead. There’s probably some wiggle room between those positions, but nothing can happen until the final EIS is public in September.

    • jafabian

      They’ll probably do Key Arena to stay in Seattle.

  • jafabian

    I can see Gretzky wanting to be a part of a Seattle bid. It’s close to Canada and he’d probably love to be a part of a Vancouver/Seattle rivalry. With Victor Coleman buying property in the SODO district there’s something starting here but I’m not quite ready to jump on the hockey bandwagon just yet.

  • Kirkland

    Coyotes fans were not happy with his in effectiveness as an owner and even coach, though there were some extenuating circumstances (ill-intended co-owners, the botched Glendale move, etc.). That said, if he becomes a more-or-less silent partner and let’s good hockey people make the hockey decisions, the Gretzky names still carries much goodwil toward the rest of the league, and that can only help Seattle.