Craig Custance, a senior NHL writer for ESPN The Magazine, published an article yesterday about what he learned on a recent trip to the Seattle area to investigate NHL possibilities in Sodo, Tukwila, and Bellevue.
He spoke with the mayors of Seattle and Tukwila, as well as the former mayor of Bellevue, and, of course, he visited the Angry Beaver, "the best hockey bar in Seattle."
It's a terrific article and you should read the entire thing, but here are some snippets.
"If someone shows me a plan that pencils out financially, I'm open to it [NHL-first MOU modification]," Murray said. "I'm waiting to see if folks come talk to me. I can't gauge it. The world of people who invest in sports teams is not a world I have a lot of exposure to. I can't gauge their interest, all I can say that this is a city that is very interested in bringing teams to Puget Sound."
The positive? This city [Tukwila] knows how to get big projects done. [Mayor Jim] Haggerton shared a story about getting rezoning on one project completed in two months, something that might take neighboring cities two years.
Along with the accessibility of highways and light rail, Tukwila has the advantage of speed. If Bettman and the NHL are eager to get to the Seattle area, this is likely the fastest route. "I think I can make a safe statement that this city could do any major project as fast or faster than anybody else," Haggerton said. "We have a track record of doing that."
Seattle Thunderbirds owner Russ Farwell has learned this as the owner of a local WHL franchise. He sees more similarities between Seattle and Dallas than Seattle and neighboring Vancouver. If the NHL is coming, it had better come with a plan of attack to build at the grass-roots level, he said.
"That needs to be built," Farwell told ESPN.com. "It's not natural here. You have to understand it. I don't think it's not possible, but to come here and just think we build a rink and throw open the doors and all of a sudden we're going to be playing in front of thousands . . . "
GEOFF BAKER SPEAKS TO KJR
Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker, who has been reporting extensively on the Bellevue and Tukwila arena options, had more to say this morning on KJR AM in Seattle.
He didn't reveal anything new, but added some context to the situation. He also speculated about Portland as a possible expansion partner, talked about what would have happened had the Phoenix Coyotes moved to Seattle, and predicted that the NHL would arrive in Seattle within five years and probably sooner.