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Arizona Coyotes Reportedly Eyeing Portland, Seattle, For Possible NHL Move

The city has already had success with the WHL Winterhawks (Getty Images)
The city has already had success with the WHL Winterhawks (Getty Images)

The rumors and stories have been floating around since 2013, about the Arizona Coyotes (Formerly Phoenix Coyotes) relocating to either Portland, OR or Seattle. Now comes a new round of news. Portland already supports a WHL team, the Winterhawks, how about NHL?

In the wake of a deal falling through this week that would have built a new arena in Tempe, AZ, the Glendale Star Newspaper reports representatives of the franchise have toured arenas in both Seattle and Portland in the last few months. NBCSports.com says the paper reports these officials have been to the MODA Center in Portland where the Trailblazers of the NBA play, and have also seen the old Key Arena, which the Sonics used to call home. The team denies the reports, but the paper says numerous representatives have made the visits.

Seattle doesn’t have a suitable arena for hockey, as the Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League have moved to the ShoWare Center in Kent, WA after a bitter battle over a better hockey facility.

The city is considering renovations to the Key Arena, and there’s been a lot of movement in trying to build a new arena that would attract an NHL or NBA team or maybe both back to Seattle. But these two proposals are butting heads, slowing down progress.

According to NBCSports, it’s “no secret” the NHL is interested in putting a team in the Pacific Northwest.

Portland is currently home to the Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, who split their home games between the MODA Center and the Veterans Memorial Coliseum, depending upon when the Blazers are in town. Coyote officials say they are committed to remaining in Arizona, but we’ve heard that from sports teams for decades prior to moving or finding better homes.

In the short or immediate future, Portland would be a better fit, as they have an NHL-ready arena in the MODA Center, and the Winterhawks could play more games at the Veterans Coliseum of needed.  Logistically, Portland is a far better fit. And, Portland only has an NBA team while Seattle has the Mariners (MLB) and Seahawks (NFL) competing for fan attention.  Plus, Seattle doesn’t have anywhere for an NHL team to play now, or in the immediate future. Given the bickering and posturing in Seattle, doesn’t appear they will anytime soon either.

And one more important statistic: the NHL guys aren’t dumb, they saw how Seattle basically ‘rode’ it’s NBA team, the Sonics, out of town, ending up in Oklahoma City.  Pro sports leagues and owners pay attention to why and how teams locate. If a city is deemed to be ‘unfriendly’ owners will shy away.

 

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