Seattle mayor willing to make NHL-first deal for arena

The Space Needle is lit in blue and green colors of the Seattle Seahawks, and topped with a "12th Man" flag that honors fans Friday evening, Jan. 30, 2015, in Seattle. The Seahawks play the New England Patriots in the NFL Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

While the Las Vegas NHL franchise’s potential owners try to scrounge up 10,000 individuals – rather than casinos – for season-ticket deposits, that other possible Western Conference expansion city is making some noise.

In announcing that the environmental review of the proposed arena site should be complete by May 7, Mayor Ed Murray said he would go to the city council and ask for their deal with current arena rights holder Chris Hansen to be amended to allow construction for an NHL tenant first. Currently, the funds will only be released for an NBA team.


He also revealed Wednesday that he is willing to go to the Seattle City Council to modify the existing Memorandum of Understanding for an NHL team to prompt construction of a new facility. The MOU currently allows for public financing and construction to begin only after an NBA team is acquired.

"Should folks in the NHL or potential owners come to us with a different financial plan that pencils out for the city and for our partners at the county, I would be willing to go back to the council and ask them to open that process," said Murray in an interview at City Hall. "I believe there could be an adjustment for an NHL team first if there if a financial plan that pencils out for the city."

The last part's the key: There's going to have to be some financial promises from the NHL and the new owner, and probably some extra freight picked up in cost.

Murray said that the NHL “indicated a willingness to move here as soon as there is an arena,” and we’ve heard much the same thing. Provided the ownership group is solid, the Seattle market is a much easier sell to the Board of Governors than is Las Vegas. That speaks to geography, demographics and track record as a pro sports city.

Even if Vegas is the far sexier option. Hey, give’em both teams!