Prospective NHL owner suggests moving on from Seattle Arena

SEATTLE -- Victor Coleman sounds very much like a man who can't strike a deal with the person who is holding the cards.

On Thursday, he acknowledged that's he's been unable to strike a deal with prospective Seattle Arena investor Chris Hansen for an NBA/NHL complex near downtown Seattle.

"I'm now looking at an alternative development partner," said Coleman by phone, who has publicly said he's interested in being the owner of a new NHL franchise in Seattle.

The CEO of Hudson Pacific Properties and a Vancouver, British Columbia native, Coleman said he's now looking into the possibility of building a privately financed arena elsewhere in the city.

He remains adamant that his first priority would be to strike a deal with Hansen, who successfully negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding with Seattle and King County back in 2012.

The MOU is contingent on a few things, including an environmental review of the property in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood. That review is expected to be completed on May 7. The deal also calls for up to $200 million in public financing if Hansen acquires an NBA franchise.

However, the proposed Seattle Arena has been somewhat upstaged by the recent developments in Tukwila. On Monday, the city and Connecticut-based investor Ray Bartoszek revealed plans for a possible privately-financed arena near Southcenter Mall.

Bartoszek filed paperwork last week to seek zoning clarification from Tukwila and was granted clearance yesterday. His group is expected to file SEPA paperwork this week.

Tukwila has indicated an environmental review could be completed in six to 12 months.

The National Hockey League has made it clear, at this point, they are interested in bringing a team to the Seattle-area, if a new building is constructed. But Coleman believes the NHL wants to be in Seattle proper.

"They should look at Glendale and elsewhere," said Coleman, referring to the recent struggles of NHL teams in suburban arenas. "100 percent the league wants to be in downtown Seattle."

Tukwila is about 11 miles from the Seattle core.

Coleman says he's been in discussions with others now, who are very interested in supporting a "hockey and entertainment venue."

He expressed frustration, saying that "Chris Hansen still controls all this property and he's got to make a determination," but that "the reality is basketball is not coming soon."

It's unclear whether Coleman is posturing with Hansen or truly pursuing a viable alternative. He acknowledged no land has been purchased and he had no timetable.

Sources connected to both sides say the two have had several meetings in recent weeks and discussed the framework for a financial contract, but have been unable to strike a deal.

"My first objective is still to do something on SoDo," says Coleman. "It is the best place to be."

Coleman said he had recently been approached as well about a group trying to put together another proposal in Bellevue, but he has "no interest". Coleman's company, Hudson Pacific, owns a couple of buildings in nearby Pioneer Square.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has met personally with Coleman, along with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, and has made it clear that he's willing to work to modify the SoDo proposal if a solid financial plan is forwarded to his office.

Murray released a statement on Monday saying as much:

"I'm committed to doing everything I can to get an NBA and NHL team here in Seattle. And Seattle is absolutely the only place for an NHL and NBA team here in our region.

"As I've said before, I stand by the MOU that the City signed which requires the NBA to commit to Seattle before an arena can be built. But given what we've heard from the NBA, I'm open to the idea of NHL coming to Seattle first. I am ready to listen and would be willing to reconsider the MOU if there is an NHL-first proposal that pencils out for the City."

The city's Design Review Board could vote on Hansen's building plans in May or June.

The NHL's Board of Governors meets in June and could discuss next steps for NHL expansion.

Hansen's spokesperson declined to comment on Coleman's statements.


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