Posted on September 25, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Wednesday, Sep 26 at 6:58 AM
How serious are they?
That’s the question many people in Seattle were asking after a brief visit Monday by Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz. Tuesday Morning, he was gone and presumably, back at his Vancouver, BC home.
A source close to the Seattle Arena investment group says Katz, and Team President Patrick LaForge, met Monday with lead Seattle investor Chris Hansen. It’s unclear what was discussed, but a source claimed the Oilers leadership group was attempting to “evaluate the market”.
Hansen won approval from the Seattle City Council on Monday to move forward on his $490 million dollar SoDo Arena proposal. A source close to the situation here says there is reason to have “skepticism” about Katz’s intentions in Seattle.
The NHL franchise, currently in a stalemate with Alberta leaders over a new downtown Edmonton Arena, admitted it was here.
Bob Black, Executive Vice President for the Katz Group, put out a statement on the club’s website that it “has been listening to proposals from a number of potential NHL markets for some time” and “After more than four years of trying to secure an arena deal and with less than 24 months remaining on the Oilers’ lease at Rexall Place, this is only prudent and should come as no surprise.”
The leadership team even attended the controversial Monday Night Football game at Century Link Field, with hockey great Wayne Gretzky.
A source in Edmonton claimed the group had toured Key Arena earlier in the day, which would perhaps be needed as a temporary home for any NHL franchise. However, another person, with knowledge of Key Arena operations, claimed Tuesday “they may have been outside but they weren’t inside the Key.”
The news set off a firestorm of anger north of the Border, on Twitter and talk Radio.
Oilers franchise leaders wouldn’t comment Tuesday on the trip. Edmonton Communications Director Jodi Tauber said the city had no official comment on the Seattle trip, but that Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel has given Katz a deadline of October 17th to tell the City about his arena concerns.
Mandel was apparently more direct to the local Canadian media about the sudden Seattle threat. He was quoted by the Globe and Mail of Canada as saying: “The Oilers have sold out what 150 to 200 games in a row (in Edmonton).
In Seattle you have football, baseball, if they get an NBA team (then it will be pro basketball), college football, college basketball, and then hockey. I’m not sure you’re going to sell out 18,500 seats a game or 18,300 seats a game there at $8,000 a season ticket.”