SEATTLE -- Multiple sources confirmed Tuesday that the NHL commissioner and deputy commissioner made a personal visit to Seattle last week and met with its top two elected officials.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly flew to Seattle last week and met privately with King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. Bettman has publicly stated the league has interest in placing a franchise in the Seattle market, but that "building issues" have gotten in the way.
Constantine spokesman Frank Abe described the meeting between Bettman and Constantine as a "meet and greet" and that "nothing was really brewing right now."
NHL Spokesman Frank Brown confirmed the meeting Tuesday, and said "Commissioner Bettman met with the Mayor while on the West Coast for playoff games. The purpose of the meeting was solely to obtain a status report on the new arena."
Seattle City Council President Tim Burgess said he was not present for either of the gatherings. A spokesperson for Murray would only confirm that the meeting took place.
It is the strongest sign yet of the league's interest in placing a team in the Emerald City.
But It's unclear why Bettman and Daly made the personal appearance in Seattle, as opposed to discussing matters over the phone.
Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer have agreed to partially fund a new NBA and NHL complex, which is currently undergoing an environmental review. The Memorandum of Understanding, approved by the Seattle City and King County Councils, allows construction to begin after the environmental review is complete and an NBA team is acquired. City leaders and Hansen have indicated they are not willing right now to renegotiate the deal to allow an NHL team to prompt construction.
Sources have told KING 5 that Constantine has privately been meeting over the last several months with potential hockey investors, who are interested in bringing a team to Seattle. Three different groups in recent months have expressed interest in owning an NHL franchise in Seattle.
A new NHL team would likely have to play at least one year in Key Arena, depending on the status of a new complex. It's unclear if the NHL would be willing to commit a team to Seattle without some sort of guarantee a state-of-the-art, hockey-friendly facility was definitively on the way.
Bryan Stevens, spokesperson for the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, said on Tuesday that the environmental review on the project is now not scheduled to be completed until "sometime this fall". He added, that he believed, that there had been "no measurable movement" in the last few weeks.
Hansen and Ballmer were rebuffed in their attempt to buy the Sacramento Kings franchise, almost a year ago. NBA Owners rejected their deal, back on May 15th of last year.