Is Seattle the new favorite to get the Coyotes?

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We always get a good response in the comments section when we write about the possibility of Seattle landing an NHL franchise. In the past, it’s always felt like a longshot, but that might be changing with the future of the Phoenix Coyotes still up in the air and many speculating it’s now or never for someone to buy the team and keep it in the desert.

After the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg, Quebec City appeared to be the favorite to get the Coyotes if the club was forced to leave Glendale. Kansas City, Las Vegas and Seattle were mentioned occasionally, but not as often as the former home of the Nordiques.

However, in yesterday’s Winnipeg Free Press, reporter Gary Lawless wrote, “Seattle is believed, at this point, to be the lead horse.”

Lawless isn’t the only reporter saying that. ESPN’s Scott Burnside made an appearance on Seattle radio yesterday and said, “You’ll hear a lot of cities come up over the next three or four months, but I think it’s interesting that Seattle, at least in my impression, has moved either to the top of that list or very near it.”

As we wrote back in December, there are lots of things Seattle’s got going for it:

—- Large metro population.

—- Plenty of rich people.

—- High-profile companies like Amazon.com, Starbucks and Microsoft.

—- Close enough to draw from Portland and Vancouver.

—- “Let’s do something indoors” weather during the winter.

What Seattle doesn’t have is an NHL-caliber arena. But then again, neither does Quebec City – not until 2015, and even that might be optimistic. In the meantime, KeyArena is arguably the more attractive venue for a temporary home compared to the old Colisee.

Burnside thinks playing games at KeyArena “would be entirely acceptable” while a new arena was being constructed.

Of course, that assumes the construction of a new arena in Seattle could be guaranteed before a Phoenix relocation occurs, as the NHL likely wouldn’t approve a move without that assurance. The city hired a consultant to explore a new arena in July, albeit with an eye mostly on the NBA. But surely adding an NHL team would make building an arena, whether via public or private money, a safer investment.

Related: Seattle is working hard to build an NBA/NHL arena (video)