When asked recently about the NHL potentially relocating or expanding to Seattle, Commissioner Gary Bettman listed the reasons why it could succeed … and one point of hesitation:
"The Pacific Northwest, the natural rivalry with Vancouver, another team in the Pacific time zone … but there's no building."
Ah, yes, the building.
Despite all the reasons why the NHL in Seattle is tantalizing — and, frankly, makes many a puckhead geek out — the Key Arena is too small for pro hockey. Its seats have more obstruction than a mid-1990s Devils/Panthers game.
If the NHL ever comes to Seattle, it would have to be with the promise that the Key would be a temporary home, if that. Which makes Sunday's report in the Seattle Times encouraging for those who want to see the NHL in the land of whole beans and flannel: a rather wealthy man wants to build an arena for an NBA team.
According to the Times, 44-year-old Seattle native Christopher Hansen "approached the city about his desire to buy an NBA team and build an arena south of Safeco Field."
He's a hedge-fund manager in San Francisco, and this is more than a notion: The Times has acquired documents that point to an eight month process with the city and Seattle mayor's office with the focus on bringing the NBA back to Seattle.
No details were listed on the agenda, but KeyArena could be used as a temporary home for a new team with the permission of the NBA, which considered it an unsuitable permanent venue even before the Sonics departed.
… Seattle has been mentioned as an NHL destination along with Kansas City and Quebec City.
While many observers consider an NHL team, as well as concerts and entertainment events, to be a crucial component for the financial success of a new arena, the documents obtained by The Times focus on basketball.
As SB Nation notes, the plan appears to focus on the Sacramento Kings, who could be mobile as soon as next season.
So it's not necessarily a plan to bring the NHL to Seattle, but it is a plan to build a facility that could house one. Which has been the League's concern.
Times columnist Steve Kelley is salivating about both the NBA and the NHL in Seattle:
What if the NHL, which owns the Phoenix Coyotes and desperately wants to sell them and move them and is very interested in Seattle, finds a home for the Coyotes here?
There still isn't an official proposal in front of the Seattle City Council. All of the Sodo land hasn't been purchased. Neither the NBA nor the NHL Board of Governors has met to discuss the possibility of franchises moving to Seattle.
… Most important, imagine parents and children having the same opportunities my father had when he took me to my first NBA game; having the chance to take their kids to Sodo to see Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose, or the NHL's Sedin twins and Marian Gaborik.
Yes, and don't so many fathers regale their sons and daughters with "I saw Marian Gaborik" stories …
Much of this rests on the future of the Phoenix Coyotes, who could be sold to one of three ownership groups allegedly seeking to buy them; or could move to Quebec City; or could be owned by the NHL for yet another season, although Phoenix Business Journal notes that "Glendale is also feeling pressure from bond buyers and ratings groups over its payments to NHL to keep the Coyotes."
Here's Bettman on the Coyotes, from his All-Star Game address:
What do you think? NHL in Seattle next season? Two seasons from now? Only through expansion? Never?
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