Democrats to the Rescue? Seattle on shortlist to host 2016 Democratic National Convention

President Obama relaxing at a basketball game. - Marco Garcia-USA TODAY Sports

A chance to host the Democratic National Convention in 2016 could light a fire under the Seattle City and King County councils to pass the arena MOU.

Could the Democratic Party be coming to the rescue of NBA and NHL fans in the City of Seattle? As a conservative (Please still like me.), I'm not sure whether to suppress laughter or vomit in my mouth a little bit when I ask that question, but a pair of Chris Daniels tweets makes it a worthy query.

Daniels deftly reports on two major issues in the first post. First of all, the DNC is seriously considering Seattle for their nominating convention in 2016. Second, this potential event would seem to require a venue that does not currently exist.

THE VENUE

KeyArena? Forget it. Safeco or the Clink? I can't imagine a political party holding a major national convention in an outdoor arena, with or without a retractable roof, in a city with unpredictable weather. If you don't share that doubt, ask yourself the following question: How many conventions do those two stadiums currently host? I'm guessing not many.

We need a new venue and it just so happens to be coming up on final decision time on a shiny new arena in Sodo.

THE POLITICS

I'm not one who's currently worried about getting our arena built if we get an NHL expansion announcement in the next couple of months. The MOU would either have to be modified or there would have to be an increase in private dollars for the infamous "NHL first" scenario to materialize, but I don't think the NHL makes that announcement unless the owners are confident that the proper arrangements would be made.

However, this is a political process and things can go wrong. I know it's hard for our community to realize that possibility, but it does exist. Many of us aren't totally sure about the new Seattle mayor in terms of the arena issue. We have a registered Socialist on the city council and we have no idea how she'll interact with the MOU process. Then there is the ever prevalent anti-sports attitude held by many in the Emerald City.

In other words, it's not difficult to imagine that we will have some council members for both the city and King County who will, to say the least, lack a sense of urgency to give final approval to a sports-friendly MOU. They may drag their feet. They may be passively aggressive or they may oppose the project outright.

Again, I'm not concerned that this will kill the arena, but we should be prepared to write letters and emails to all the governing parties as we did a couple of years ago just to remind them that we exist and we still vote.

THE TONGUE WAGGING

In a notoriously liberal city, however, would a chance to slobber all over President Obama and Hillary Clinton on national television be enough to motivate the lollygaggers to build a shiny new arena as quickly as they can arrange it? I'd say there's a good chance.

Even if they do, however, the schedule would be a tight one with no guarantees of meeting the DNC's deadline.

Let's say the NHL announces expansion this week on the condition that the arena MOU passes EIS/SEPA reviews and is modified to allow the NHL to come first. Let's say the DNC formally selects Seattle for the 2016 convention and announces it next week. Then let's say that this motivates the councils to call an emergency session the following week to pass the revised MOU in record fashion.

How long would it take for contractors to be selected and for a shovel to hit the ground? I don't know the answer to that question, but let's say it takes a month. Under this scenario, construction would begin some time in April.

In the alternate Seattle universe that would be required for those things to happen so quickly, how long would it then take to build the arena and would it be done in time for the ninth month of 2016?

THE CONSTRUCTION

Here is a list of recently built NBA/NHL compatible arenas and how long it took to construct each one of them.

Arena NBA/NHL Teams hosted

Opened

Construction Time
American Airlines Center Dallas Mavericks and Stars 2001 1 year, 10 months
Air Canada Centre Toronto Raptors and Mapleleafs 1999 1 year, 11 months
Console Energy Center Pittsburgh Penguins 2010 2 years
Jobing.com Arena Phoenix Coyotes 2003 1 year, 8 months
MTS Centre Winnepeg Jets 2004 1 year, 7 months
Nationwide Arena Columbus Blue Jackets 2000 2 years, 4 months
Prudential Center New Jersey Devils 2007 2 years
Xcel Energy Center Minnesota Wild 2000 1 year, 3 months
Staples Center Los Angeles Kings, Lakers, and Clippers 1999 1 year, 7 months
Barclays Center Brooklyn Nets and New York Islanders (2015) 2012 2 years, 6 months

Sixty percent of those arenas were done in under two years. The shortest construction time on that list is a year and three months, while the boys in Brooklyn needed two years and six months to get it done.

If construction began in April, then this could certainly get done in time for the Clinton coronation, based on most of the timelines above. Then again, Seattle could draw the same contractors that took forever to build Barclays Center.

THE REALITY

Of course, we know that everything won't get done in time to start construction in April. In fact, it's a laughable idea. Any NHL expansion announcement is likely to take place in May or June, the councils will likely not address the MOU until at least June, and we don't really know the DNC's decision timeline, though an article at Stltoday.com indicates a decision in early 2016.

I'd say we are looking at fall of this year as the earliest potential ground breaking date in Sodo. Under that scenario, could the arena be built in time to suit the Democrats? Possibly, but there would be no room for error and no time to waste.

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