One Vote Stopped Seattle from Getting NHL's Arizona Coyotes

One Vote Stopped Seattle from Getting NHL's Arizona Coyotes

Seattle, Washington, was one vote away from getting its own National Hockey League team when the Phoenix Coyotes almost fled Arizona, reports say.

Only one vote in favor of a new arena cast 15 months ago by the City Council in Glendale, Arizona, prevented the then Phoenix Coyotes NHL hockey team from leaving Arizona and ending up in Seattle.

It appears that the NHL was poised to award the team to Seattle if the stadium deal fell through.

“Most people don’t realize how close we were to actually getting an NHL team,” former Seattle mayor Mike McGinn recently divulged. McGinn was part of the team negotiating the move. 

McGinn’s claims are buttressed by an internal NHL memo that was made public. The memo said that if the Phoenix Coyotes–later renamed the Arizona Coyotes–didn’t get a favorable outcome in Glendale, the NHL “would immediately pursue one of several backup alternatives which likely would entail a prompt relocation of the franchise. While there are several potential cities…it appears that Seattle is the most likely.”

But the Glendale deal is still on shaky grounds as the tie-breaking vote seems to have come from a councilman who was previously critical of any tax deals for the team. Despite his past opposition, though, councilman Samuel Chavira suddenly switched sides and voted in favor of the arena deal.

Now the state is investigating the vote to find out whether or not there were some back-room shenanigans that violated the state’s Open Meetings Law because another councilman suddenly switched his “no” vote on a casino project. Investigators have suspicions that a backroom deal was made out of the light of public scrutiny.

Still, Seattle has had a tough time with pro sports. Several years ago the city lost the Seattle Supersonics to Oklahoma City. Now we see its attempt to gain an NHL team died stillborn.

But the NHL itself isn’t having a ton of success expanding. Its foray into the Sunbelt has yet to catch fire.

Now the Panthers are clamoring for $80 million in tax breaks to keep the team afloat. The Panthers have asked Broward County for the $80 million without even offering any plans for new facilities or renovations. It appears the team just needs the cash as it is losing some $20 million a year.

It just seems that Florida fans are not flocking to the rink. Last year’s attendance report shows that the Panthers had the second-lowest fan attendance in the league.

But maybe Seattle dodged a bullet, after all. For what team had the worst attendance last year? The Coyotes!

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com


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