While absolutely nothing is going on in the NHL right now, the city of Seattle continues to angle for an NBA team. And when that happens, the NHL would be next in their sights. How realistic is it that pro hockey makes a return to the Pacific Northwest?
Neil deMause, the author of Field of Schemes (and the man behind the blog of the same name), has seen his fair share of shady arena deals. He is a fan of the deal that was recently approved. Although he has no official say in the arrangement, his opinion carries weight for both sides of the equation (the city and Chris Hansen’s group).
“This is certainly better than what other cities are doing, including here in Brooklyn. This is a hundred times better than anything built before the Sonics left, certainly a hundred times better than Safeco, and before other buildings including the Kingdome.”
The NBA’s Return as a Precursor
One of the NBA’s most influential former players, Magic Johnson, is pushing for a return to the city.
“I have a fond place in my heart for Seattle, so I hope that an NBA team comes back to this great city, this great sports city.”
Chris Hansen appreciated the support.
“It certainly can’t hurt. Magic is Magic. He’s beloved, and his words carry a lot of weight. The more people we have on our side the better.”
And Commissioner David Stern seems to have changed his tune on a return, as well. He also recently announced that next season will be his last as the NBA’s commissioner.
“The great part of that comment is David is really supportive in getting basketball back to Seattle. Hansen on Stern:
“I think it’s very clear from David’s comments and a lot of the other owners when they’re asked about Seattle, they would like to see basketball back here.”
One of the top insiders in basketball caught a whiff a very interesting rumor, too.
Citing unnamed league sources, Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo! Sports painted a scenario in which Stern will work a backdoor deal to force the Maloof family to sell the Sacramento Kings to Hansen.
“Between now and his departure, Stern is determined to get a franchise back into Seattle,” Wojnarowski wrote. “Stern desperately wants to return the NBA to one of its great markets and wants it for his own measure of vindication before he leaves office.”
Former Sonics star Gary Payton is also involved, and he is very optimistic.
It’s going great. We got the new arena deal, and the NBA has already given us an OK to go look for a team. So the pieces are in place to make moves now, and we’re working on having a team for next season. In 2015, the new arena is gonna be ready. So if everything goes as planned, we’re going to revamp Key Arena and play there for one year, while the new arena is being finished.
However, not everything is as rosy for the NHL in Seattle right now. The Islanders are moving to Brooklyn, and that takes one team out of the mix for a potential relocation to the Emerald City in a few years (the Islanders were facing a deadline of 2015, as that is when their lease with Nassau Coliseum is set to expire).
Bettman also shot down the idea of expansion – I agree with him on this issue. Adding another few teams may add some funds to the league in the form of expansion fees, but it would further dilute an already diluted talent pool, and it would do nothing to fix the currently struggling franchises.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday he has no plans to add new teams to the league and is focused on keeping the current teams where they are. It’s the latest blow in the efforts to bring hockey to a new sports arena in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood.
The NHL can’t come to Seattle without an arena, and an arena can’t come to Seattle without an NBA team. Even if you love hockey and loathe basketball, it’s time to bust those Sonics colours out (imagine for a second that the reincarnation would be named the Sonics, similar to what Winnipeg did with the Jets) and cheer for the NBA’s return.
Previous NHL in Seattle Posts:
- The Issue of Traffic in Seattle
- Potential Owners
- The Financial Risks of the NHL in Seattle
- Would the NHL in Seattle Work?