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Seattle arena - Baker Column: NHL waiting for Seattle?

Seattle Times guy Geoff Baker opines that the NHL is waiting for the outcome of the upcoming street vacation vote before any final expansion decisions are made.

Icy goodness
Icy goodness
Sonics Arena

I know our blog has had some differences with Seattle Times sports business reporter Geoff Baker, especially in the last week or so. But he has worked hard covering our various NBA/NHL arena issues over the last year or so and has been right more often than many believe.

He's also been a friend to the Seattle Sin Bin podcast since its inception, and Geoff has my thanks for that.

Baker published an interesting column Sunday in which he speculates the possible reasons for the delay in the NHL's expansion decision. Hint: The league is waiting to see what happens in Seattle.

There have been whispers the delay is about the weakened Canadian dollar, Vegas being America's gambling Mecca, troubled NHL franchises and so on. But the more plausible explanation is that the NHL is avoiding any expansion decision until after an upcoming Seattle City Council vote likely to decide the fate of Chris Hansen's proposed Sodo District arena.

Hansen has a potential NHL partner in Los Angeles real-estate magnate Victor Coleman, who expressed interest in a "hockey first" financial arrangement to fund the arena. But they've yet to reach a deal, largely because the NHL's $500 million expansion fee makes it difficult for hockey here to "pencil out" on its own.

The NHL needs Hansen and Coleman to work something out. When I spoke recently with Jeff Marks, a sports consultant working with Coleman, he told me his client is monitoring Seattle's political situation and wants assurances Hansen can get his arena approved before signing off on any deal.

So Coleman is waiting to see how the upcoming street vacation vote goes before he commits anything to Hansen for an NHL first agreement? It seems a logical idea and, for those in the community who are wondering, this is one of the reasons why we need to hand Occidental over to Hansen as soon as possible.