According to officials in Seattle and Portland, members of the Arizona Coyotes have toured arenas in both locations in the past three months. The destinations appear to have been the KeyArena in Seattle and the Moda Center in Portland, Ore.
The Moda Center is the home of the National Basketball Association’s Portland Trailblazers and has been long rumored to want a National Hockey League team.
Trailblazers owner, Paul Allen, has said he would like to own a percentage of any team that may play at Moda Center. Portland has long been one of the many rumored landing spots of the Coyotes, as well as Seattle.
The KeyArena has been mostly empty since the Seattle Supersonics left for Oklahoma City in 2007. The City of Seattle recently released a request for proposal for development of KeyArena in hopes of, “providing a world-class civic arena to attract and present music, entertainment, and sports events, potentially including NBA and NHL events, to Seattle and the region.”
A spokesperson for Key Arena said, “(the city) recently had a tour for potential developers and potential ownership groups and there was a representative from the (Coyotes) that was part of that.”
The spokesperson was unaware what member of the organization was part of the tour.
Arizona Coyotes Executive Vice President of Communications Rich Nairn denied the rumors, when asked about the reports of members touring the two arenas.
“That is false,” Nairn said via email.
Glendale City Manager Kevin Phelps said he is hopeful the team will remain in the city-owned arena for years to come.
“It would appear to be a step backwards for the NHL to vacate the 12th largest metropolitan market in the U.S. It makes more sense for the league to expand into the Northwest market with a new franchise,” Phelps said. “We believe the best option for the Coyotes is to sign a long term lease to play in the Gila River Arena and for the community, business and civic leaders throughout the Valley to come together to support the franchise. 35-year West Valley growth projections (2015-2050) predict the West Valley will grow at almost double the rate of the East Valley or city of Phoenix. Projections predict population growth for the West Valley region will be almost equal to the combined growth of Phoenix and the East Valley.”
When asked if the city would be willing to discuss a sale of Gila River Arena to the Coyotes ownership group, Phelps said “The city to date has not discussed the concept of selling the arena to the Coyotes or other private sector interest. That said, the city is committed to exploring any option that would insure the Coyotes continue to make their home here in Glendale.”