Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz visits Seattle
Canadian hockey team has less than 24 months left on lease at Rexall Place
Edmonton Oilers brass spent Monday night prospecting in the Emerald City.
The Oilers released a statement from owner Daryl Katz's group confirming that he, team president Patrick LaForge and Kevin Lowe, president of hockey operations, were in Seattle for meetings, though it was not specified who exactly they were conferring with. The statement said the Oilers' trio was taking in an NFL game between the Seahawks and Green Bay.
"We remain committed to working with city administration to achieve a deal commensurate with what Winnipeg and Pittsburgh have done to sustain the NHL in those small markets," executive vice-president of the Katz Group, Bob Black, said in the statement.
"If we can achieve such a deal, the Oilers will remain in Edmonton and we can get on with the important work of developing the new arena and investing in the continued revitalization of Edmonton's downtown core.
"Nonetheless, and as the City of Edmonton is aware, the Katz Group has been listening to proposals from a number of potential NHL markets for some time. 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.
"We are extremely grateful to Oilers' fans for their patience and loyalty as we work through this process towards what we sincerely hope will be a long and successful future for the Oilers in Edmonton. We have no further comment on the status of our discussions with other markets at this time."
The Oilers and the City of Edmonton had agreed on plans for a proposed $475-million cost-shared arena that would begin construction early next year.
But the arena and the Oilers' future in the city were thrown into doubt earlier this month when the team told councillors it wanted millions of dollars in new concessions from taxpayers.
The Seattle Times reported that the Oilers reps were touring KeyArena, which would be the only facility in the city available within the next few years.
The arena originally opened in 1962, was rehauled in the early 1990s, and has a hockey capacity of over 15,000.
Seattle City Council on Monday gave the OK by a 6-2 vote for plans for a new $490-million US arena.
Local billionaire Chris Hansen is behind the bid. Hansen, a committed basketball fan, has been driven to bring an NBA team back to the city after the Sonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008.
The new venue, to be near Safeco Field where the Seahawks play, would be multi-purpose in order to attract other anchor tenants such as a hockey franchise.
Seattle's hockey history over the past decades has included teams in the both the pro and junior versions of the Western Hockey League, while the Seattle Metropolitans during their nine-year existence won the Stanley Cup in 1917.
With files from The Canadian Press