It is amazing how perception of events can vary based on how those events are presented to the public.
This has been demonstrated pretty convincingly over the last 2 weeks as fans have ridden the emotional roller coaster, first being ecstatic to hear reports that the NHL Commissioner had visited town and then later having cold water thrown on their dreams by media interpretations of Mayor Ed Murray's comments the next day.
Murray sees no desire to re-open MOU to allow hockey first..#NHLSeattle
— Tom Glasgow (@Tom206Sports) May 15, 2014
It is not news that Mayor Murray is not a sports fan. It also is not news that there is little current political will to re-open the Memorandum of Understanding to create a "Hockey First" scenario. No potential buyer with any sense of the situation could have realistically expected to come here and here any other response to that question. Furthermore no reporter who understands city hall would have expected more than a terse and disinterested reply to Hockey related questions asked at a press conference intended to highlight a signature accomplishment of the Mayors young administration, the proposed implementation of Universal Pre-K for all citizens of Seattle.
Our fans have been through a lot and I get the fact that they want to see action, but the sudden surge in negativity was unwarranted and somewhat surprising in light of the fact that THE COMMISSIONER OF THE NHL CAME TO SEATTLE TO IDENTIFY NEW OWNERS!
This is huge news. Anybody who attended the Hockey Meetup 3 weeks ago heard me comment that the lack of a clearly identified primary ownership group has been the biggest obstacle to negotiations starting in earnest. While Chris Hansen is considered to be the most important player here locally the truth is that it is the leagues who control the franchise expansion or relocation. As yourself, what would happen if Hansen agreed to an Arena partnership deal with Don Levin only to find out that the league had another preferred owner? How can any of the potential Hockey ownership groups (at least 2 that I know about remain undisclosed) discuss that partnership prior to knowing the price, terms and schedule of the franchise they are hoping to acquire?
The fact that the broader public seemed to disregard this visit as a result of a single hasty comment from the Mayor is akin to a starving person being offered bread but being disappointed by the lack of a better meal. We needed this to happen. We needed the NHL to come out here and we needed an ownership group to be willing to be identified.
Shortly after this visit our friend Chris Daniels reported $281 million in Sodo land had been purchased by prospective NHL owner Victor Coleman who is rumored to have been in discussions with Chris Hansen for more than a year:
I was again surprised at perceptions of this story. Many people on Facebook and Twitter speculated that Coleman could build a second, hockey only arena on his land or that he had become a competitor to Hansen. Some felt that he would participate in a massive redevelopment of the neighborhood despite the fact that the property for the most part contain large and functional existing buildings.
Coleman's investment addresses a significant concern raised by people familiar with the situation. With the project growing so expensive and the scale so large where would Chris Hansen find additional partners willing to go the extra mile and push this thing to completion despite the costs?
Owning $281 million in land allows Coleman to participate in a bigger game, investing in a lesser deal around the team and arena but making up for it by profiting from the regional development. Clearly a smart and successful businessman he was willing to make this investment of more than a quarter BILLION dollars after talking to the NHL commissioner and Chris Hansen for more than a year.
I understand that people want conclusions more than they want progress but think that people need to apply some perspective here. The Commissioner of the NHL came to Seattle to introduce a new owner who seems ideally suited to partner with Chris Hansen and has committed himself by investing more than a quarter billion dollars in our city. Step back from your frustration for a moment and realize:
It's been a great freaking month. Be happy with the progress!
— Brian Robinson (@206empire) May 21, 2014