The NHL has long been interested in the city of Seattle, either as home to a new expansion team or as a possible landing spot for a relocated franchise. However a group looking to build an arena in Seattle couldn’t agree with the city on a financing plan. The municipality was unwilling to use public funds, as previously proposed, and the project appeared dead until today.
Chris Hansen, who fronts the group of investors looking to build the arena, has revealed a new proposal that offers to forgo public funding in order to obtain approval to begin construction on a new venue in the city’s SoDo neighborhood, according to a report from King 5 News in Seattle. This development would seem to pave the way for eventual placement of an NHL franchise in the city but there’s at least one hurdle remaining.
The group’s primary objective is the acquisition of an NBA team and during the NHL’s recent expansion process, no one representing Seattle submitted an application to the league in pursuit of a franchise.
Below is an excerpt from the letter outlining the Hansen group’s new proposal to the mayor of Seattle, the King County Executive and Seattle City Councilmembers, which spells out their interest in the NBA:
Our goal has always been to return the NBA to Seattle and to build a new arena to make that possible. Our partnership with the City and County started five years ago was based on a recognition that private financing of a new arena in the prevailing economic conditions was not economically feasible. The goal of this partnership was to build the arena and bring an NBA team to Seattle. Public financing was simply a mechanism that made that possible at the time.
Now it’s possible, if not even likely, that once an NBA team is placed in the city an NHL franchise will soon follow. According to the article the NBA may begin to focus on expansion once the league and the player’s union agree to a new CBA.
The NHL currently has 31 members, creating unbalanced conferences and scheduling difficulties. Adding a 32nd franchise would solve those issues. Quebec is of course another possible candidate but would seem to be a better fit in the Eastern Conference an therefore might be best suited as a fallback in case the league needs to relocate a team in the East. With the Seattle arena project appearing to be back on track, the Pacific Northwest is again an appealing expansion option for the NHL.