Today, the City of Seattle and King County announced a proposal to build an arena that could bring the NBA back to Seattle and possibly welcome the NHL.
There has been an “Arena Review Panel” formed to review the full proposal. During today’s press conference it was said that “Private investor would bear the project risk” and that there would be no public subsidy. From the Seattle PI:
The plan was spearheaded by Seattle-born investor Chris Hansen, who with his investment group is planning to purchase an NBA franchise and bring it to Seattle. He also is searching for an partner to acquire an NHL team and bring it to Seattle.
Under the plan, which must still go through a newly appointed city and county panel, any teams at the new arena would be bound to stay in Seattle for 30 years. That means there could be no repeat of the Sonics fiasco for at least 30 years.
The proposed arena would take two years to construct and would be located south of the Safeco Field parking garage, where Hansen already owns a three-acre chunk of land. It would be jointly owned by the city of Seattle and King County. Several businesses would need to be relocated and several buildings would need to be demolished.
Rumours are now flying about the Sacramento Kings moving to Seattle’s court and the Phoenix Coyotes heading to their rink. The NBA left Seattle after the 2007-2008 season when the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City. As for hockey, Seattle has the WHL Thunderbirds and Everett Silvertips but there has never been a National Hockey League team between Vancouver and San Jose.
Seattle is actually quite the hockey town. Its name graces Lord Stanley’s Cup several times thanks to the domination of the Seattle Metropolitans, 1917 to 1920. I found a great piece of Seattle hockey history online:
In April of 1974 the NHL announced that Seattle and Denver had been awarded franchises, both scheduled to begin play during the 1976-77 season. This contributed to the folding of the WHL following the 1973-74, and the Totems moved to the Central Hockey League (CHL) to await the launching of their NHL team… …Things went from bad to worse for Seattle in the spring of 1975, as Vince Abbey had trouble coming up with the money required by the NHL for the new franchise. He also tried to strike deals to buy either the San Francisco or the Pittsburgh franchises so that he could move them to Seattle for the 1975-76 season…
…Eventually both the Seattle and Denver deals fell apart, and Denver got a WHA franchise. Abbey opted to sue the NHL for anti-trust violations, and the case dragged on until 1986 when it was finally thrown out by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. In the meantime, Northwest Sports counter-sued Abbey for his share of the losses suffered by the Totems, eventually winning a judgment of over $1.3 million. So ended professional hockey in Seattle… with a whimper. Seattle would never again have a professional hockey team, and no hockey at all until the junior league Seattle Breakers came to town in 1977.
I’d love to know what Vancouver hockey fans think of a potential NHL rival in Seattle. Would this be good for the Canucks or bad in terms of splitting the fan base?