Seattle’s hopes of landing an expansion team may have taken a serious hit as it appears two groups thought to be considering applying for a new NHL club won’t do so by Monday’s deadline.
According to the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker, Los Angeles businessman Victor Coleman has reportedly told his group he won’t be filing an application and the same goes for the group looking to put a team in neighboring Bellevue, where plans fell apart, “late last week after anticipated financing for the venue failed to materialize.” An application for expansion will cost a reported $10 million, with $2 million of the fee not refundable should the group fail to secure an NHL team.
However, even with two groups potentially backing out, it does leave one group still potentially interested in submitting a bid. Headed up by Ray Bartosek, an investment banker hailing from Connecticut, the expansion group reportedly wishing to put an arena, and potential NHL club, in Tukwila are expected to submit a bid by Monday’s deadline.
Should Coleman’s group, or the group involved with the Bellevue arena, become interested again, their only hope would be for the NHL to grant an extension to the application deadline. According to Baker, the NHL did not comment on what impact missing the deadline would have.
One of the most interesting notes from the Seattle Times report comes with regards to the potential Bellevue arena, though. According to Baker, one of the key figures involved in the Bellevue arena/expansion bid was Jac Sperling, who, “is known as “The Deal Whisperer” in NHL circles for his decades stealthily brokering stadium and franchise deals — including bringing hockey expansion to Anaheim and Minnesota — beyond prying media eyes.” Sperling is currently an alternate governor, representing the Wild, on the NHL’s board of governors.
That the Bellevue group had someone with a history of making expansion a reality on their side could have helped push the bid over the top. Sperling was reportedly working on behalf of a, “third-party group interested in securing an NHL expansion team to play in Bellevue.” However, IntraVest Development of Arizona, the group looking to make the arena deal, and Sperling left the Seattle-area when it appeared no arena deal would get made.
The application deadline for expansion bids is Monday, July 20. Bids are expected to come from Las Vegas and Quebec City, but there’s no word quite yet on whether an application will be submitted from a group in Seattle. If a bid does come from Washington State, however, it’s nearly certain it won’t be from either Coleman’s or Sperling’s group.