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NHL First? A Slightly Cracked-Open Window

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Mayor Ed Murray seemed open to an NHL-first option in interviews with Chris Daniels and Geoff Baker, but it will take a significant effort by NHL investors to pull it off.

Edited by Tiffany Villigan

Not an empty net, but a slightly open window
Not an empty net, but a slightly open window
Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

A couple of months ago, reflecting my growing infatuation with another sport, I opined that skyrocketing franchise values in the NHL should make a "hockey first" arena scenario more palatable to the powers that be.

Well, one of those powers currently be Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, who seemed to crack open a window to that possibility, even in the midst of concern over a closed door to an NBA franchise. He did so in separate articles by Geoff Baker and Chris Daniels. In the Baker article, he sounds slightly negative. In the Daniels piece, he sounds a little more positive. Surprise, surprise.

From Baker's article...

Murray says NHL commissioner Bettman asked him about modifying the MOU to allow for a hockey team to come first.

"My pushback is always that I don't see that unless there is a financial model that's beneficial,'' Murray said.

From Daniels' article...

That leads to an inevitable question. Would Murray support legislation that would alter the MOU for an NHL-first scenario?

"I think that we would have to see a potential financial model proposition penciled out," said Murray, who noted that nothing had been submitted to his office.

NOT THE USUAL LINE...

Neither of those statements sound all that exciting for NHL-first prospects until you consider the kind of statements that our public officials usually make on the issue.

Every NHL-related statement from any Seattle official that I can recall has been something like "We must have an NBA franchise for this to pencil out" or "An NHL franchise on its own will not make this arena feasible" or "The NHL is just too big of a risk on its own."

By saying "We would have to see a potential financial model proposition penciled out," the mayor was expressing ... gasp ... openness to the idea that it COULD be feasible. He was leaving the door ever so slightly ajar. To my knowledge, he is the first city official to do so publicly. I can only hope that more will follow.

THE KIND OF EFFORT...

The Green Bay Packers left a door cracked open late in the fourth quarter last Sunday and the Seattle Seahawks kicked it off the hinges and beat them over the head with it for the rest of the game. That's how they got into the Super Bowl.

And that is the kind of herculean effort that Victor Coleman and his team will have to bring to convince Hansen and the local electeds to modify the MOU. Instead of onside kicks, Hail Mary two-pointers, and ballsy bombs, Team Coleman will have to shock and awe with lots of determination and even more money.

EXCUSE ME WHILE I GROSSLY OVERSIMPLIFY, BUT...

The Coleman group will have to show Hansen somewhere between one and $390 million dollars to make the option interesting to him. They may even have to buy him out completely if things go truly south with the NBA. Don't ever forget that he's put in a ton of effort and money in the purchase of land and in guiding the MOU to its current state.

It will cost somewhere between one and $120 million dollars to pique the interest of the city and will cost somewhere between one and $80 million dollars to get the county on board.

Only Hansen and the pertinent council members know how far the needle will have to move, but make no mistake: it will be a significant distance.

Come on, Victor. Kick that door off the hinges.