SEATTLE - On Sunday, hundreds of fans pulled into parking lots on the south side of Safeco Field, and did some pre-game tailgating.
Chris Hansen was among them. He stood in a lot, purchased for his proposed arena project, wearing a Seahawks jersey, and staring into an uncertain future. He didn't say much about the project, which faces another week of scrutiny.
The Downtown Design review board will once again meet on Tuesday to review his proposed NBA/NHL arena complex. Another public meeting, over the environmental review, will happen two days later. They are both key meetings, as his project continues to progress, and evolve.
Sources with intimate knowledge of the situation, believe the NHL is now watching the status of the project, and gauging corporate and fan interest in a potential expansion franchise. Hansen has been seeking a partner who could be a tenant in a new building. Sources say NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has been quietly pushing owners to award a franchise to Seattle, perhaps as early as next year. The NHL has denied that any talks have taken place, and sources suggest nothing has been finalized.
The NHL's Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly previously told KING5 there is not even a "handshake agreement" on a deal for a team. But he told fans in Vancouver this summer "I think Seattle would be a great market for the NHL." Ray Bartoczek and Anthony Lanza both expressed interest in buying the Phoenix Coyotes earlier this year, and relocate them to Seattle. The NHL has said repeatedly that playing in Key Arena, on a interim basis, would not be an issue.
Sources say the interested parties have explored putting in a VIP or suite area in two corners of Key Arena, to help generate revenue in an offset ice configuration.
The design review meeting is Tuesday, the 17th, at 5:30 at the Seattle Municipal Tower.
The environmental review is scheduled for Thursday, the 19th, at 6pm at the Fidalgo Room at Seattle Center.