According to the New York Post, Wayne Gretzky has joined a group of investors hoping to bring a National Hockey League team to Seattle, despite the fact that commissioner Gary Bettman said expansion is not on the league’s agenda.
The Gretzky group is one of three looking to bring an NHL franchise to Seattle, where there is no NHL-sized arena, although Seattle native Chris Hansen is attempting to build a basketball/hockey arena in SoDo. The Post said its sources do not know if the Gretzky group or either of the other two groups are seeking an expansion team or hope to move an existing team.
A move to buy a Seattle team would mark at least the second time the 53-year-old Hall of Famer tried to become an NHL owner.
In 2011, Gretzky partnered with a New York private-equity firm in a $1.5 billion bid for Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NBA Toronto Raptors.
However, the NHL rejected the group’s offer because it would have been structured as a leveraged buyout with debt levels higher than 50 percent of the franchise value, which is against NHL rules.
Bettman in May visited Seattle to learn the status of Hansen’s project, but found out that Mayor Ed Murray and the city council are so far not interested in advancing the NHL bid ahead of Hansen’s desire for an NBA team first.
“He needs a team to get the arena off the ground,” a source close to the situation said.
Gretzky declined comment to the Post.