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Report: Wayne Gretzky meeting with Bellevue officials about NHL arena
Wayne Gretzky, who was seen at a Seattle Mariners game Wednesday, took a meeting with Bellevue officials to discuss the possibility of a NHL arena in the city, according to KJR radio's Dave "Softy" Mahler.
Bellevue spokesman Claude Iosso said he was unaware of the meeting.
A source close to the situation said talks between Bellevue and suitors for an NHL arena have been ongoing, but the source did not want to go into any particular individuals.
"There are people working on it," the source said.
But no proposals have been turned in, the source said. Were an arena plan to materialize, no Bellevue dollars, not even in the form of bond financing, would be included, the source added. Anything else is a non starter. This position has been echoed in the past by Bellevue officials.
Bellevue has been active in arena discussions with a variety of potential owners in recent years. Rumors swirled last summer when Don Levin, an owner of a minor league hockey team in Chicago, was linked to talks with Bellevue officials to build a potential arena. The city made a public admission earlier this year that it is still active in talking to potential owners.
Rumors on the Eastside cooled when hedge fund manager Chris Hansen earlier this year came forward with an NBA/NHL arena proposal in Seattle's SoDo district. But Hansen, and Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, a principal supporter of the Seattle plan, have said that if political opposition overcomes the project proposal that it may not be long before other suitors, potentially from Bellevue, step up.
According to the source, the city would not necessarily back off an arena plan if Hansen's arena houses only an NBA team.
Gretzky, who has no ties to the area, was part of the ownership group of the Phoenix Coyotes until 2009. The Coyotes have faced financial troubles for years and have often been linked with this area as a potential team that could be had, should an arena plan materialize. The team is in the process of being sold to a new owner, but the proposal is not without its own opposition.