Victor Coleman recently did a phone interview for an ESPN Insider article on his effort to bring an NHL franchise to Seattle. NHL great Jeremy Roenick did an interview on the same topic for a Yahoo Sports article.
While both men said essentially the same thing, that it might take a while for Seattle to get a team, they approached the issue from differing perspectives.
THE ROENICK PERSPECTIVE
"I'm still actively pursuing, and Seattle is one of those cities that would be a great hockey town. Politics plays a very, very large role in all of sports in Seattle. The arena is a big problem. Key Arena is there. It's old, and it's decrepit, and you can't refurbish it to have what the NHL calls a first-class facility.
"It's not financially smart to put a single tenant hockey team into an arena. They want basketball, and basketball's not close to coming there, especially with the new TV rights deal coming out. You're not going to see an expansion team coming to the NBA because the owners don't want to share the money.
"So there's a problem with the building in Seattle. Will there be a team in Seattle? Absolutely. But I just don't see it in the foreseeable future."
Nothing about that statement should surprise anyone. The NHL will require a new arena, Key Arena is a non-starter, and the NBA will have to arrive first for the SoDo arena to be built.
I take issue with one thing he said, however. Roenick doesn't know how close the NBA is to coming to Seattle. No one does except for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the people trying to bring it here. Chris Hansen continues to work with the league and will have a shovel-ready arena in the next few months. In fact, we recently discovered that another group, led by the mysterious Thomas Tull, is also trying to bring a franchise to the Emerald City. There are a lot of moving parts.
Furthermore, I stand by our previous report, which was based on multiple knowledgeable sources, that the NBA is discussing expansion behind the scenes, in spite of Silver's public stance. We also don't know what will happen in Milwaukee, though I root for the fans of that city. This is not to say that expansion or relocation will happen, but both are still active possibilities.
John Barr, of NHLtoSeattle.com, tweeted out some context about Roenick today.
More on JR comments: JR was tied to the Bartoszek group in the Summer of 2013, he then was rumored to break off and form his own group.(1/2)— NHLtoSeattle (@NHLtoSeattle) January 13, 2015
AFAIK: JR has never been tied to the Coleman group who appears to be the lead group in bringing NHLtoSeattle.(2/2)— NHLtoSeattle (@NHLtoSeattle) January 13, 2015
THE COLEMAN PERSPECTIVE
The interview was for an ESPN Insider article, so I won't quote passages, but here are some bullet points.
- Ongoing communication with NHL honchos Gary Bettman and Bill Daly.
- No comment on the reports that expansion fees could reach $500 million.
- Coleman is fine with the concept of getting an expansion team sometime after Las Vegas.
- Existing Seattle market research makes a season ticket drive to gauge interest unnecessary.
- Long-range vision for professional hockey in Seattle.
- Will let Seattle fans help choose the team name (Go Mammoths!).
- Patience with the Seattle process.
In addition to the fact that the NHL has tacitly embraced his group for future expansion to Seattle, there is a reason why Mr. Coleman has forged a working relationship with Mr. Hansen. They are two peas in the same pod. They have a similar temperament. They have similar patience. They both look way beyond the present circumstances.
Patience with the Seattle process? Long range vision for Seattle? Coleman and Hansen have both, which is why I believe that hockey and basketball fans in the pacific northwest will wind up happy in the end.