By now, anyone who wants to has read Craig Custance's article on bringing the NHL to Seattle, and if you haven't, you've most likely read Paul's summary. There is a lot of good info in the article, but a few quotes from Mayor Ed Murray have really stood out in the eyes of many.
Mayor Murray has recently publicly stated his support for Chris Hansen's SoDo arena plan. He also stated he has no reluctance to an NHL-first scenario for said arena, other than the fact that none has been presented. "If someone shows me a plan that pencils out financially, I'm open to it," Murray told Custance. Of course, re-opening the MOU is a whole other jar of pickles, but I already discussed that in a previous article. The point is, there isn't an opposition to the NHL as an entity in Seattle. In fact, according to Murray, there is a desire for it. "All I can say that this is a city that is very interested in bringing teams to Puget Sound."
For Murray, that quest is not only professional, but personal. Murray is a constant at many sports events around Seattle, appearing in the Seahawks Super Bowl parade last year, and just recently being front and center at "12 Fest," a Seahawks fan event at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ. Being a sports fan is not his only motivation, however. "I would love to be the mayor who happens to be gay who delivers not one but two sports teams," Murray said. "It would help break down stereotypes about sports and sexual orientation. I have another motivation here."
This is awesome. Why? It shows that our Mayor is not only interested in the long-suffering cause of bringing back the SuperSonics and opening up a wicked NHL rivalry between us and Vancouver, BC, but he is also coming at this with a really valuable perspective as a gay man in elected office. His motivation is unique, and new to us. We dig this! What a badass way to kill two birds with one stone for Seattle.
The LGBT community in most societies worldwide has long suffered from stereotyping by other larger communities. Many of us think of stereotyping in the context of humor, and we write it off because that's what humor does for us. Unfortunately, stereotyping can lead to grim outcomes, such as discrimination and disenfranchisement. As it is really the thoughts we hold about others that guide our decisions and behavior toward them, then we must strive to see people for what they really are and not force them into so many narrow boxes. Fairness can only derive from open-minded thought. So breaking down the stereotypes really is the right place to start.
As Custance points out, Murray can't control what the NBA, NHL, or Chris Hansen thinks or does. He can't change anyone's mind about whether or not to change the MOU or put a team in Seattle, be it via expansion or relocation. However, he is doing his best to control the things that are within his power. He recently called out the Department of Planning and Development for their continued delays of the FEIS, demanding more transparency from them. According to Custance, Murray hopes to have a timeline laid out soon, detailing the next steps for the city and keeping people informed of its progress, instead of springing surprise delays on everyone yet again.
Murray is involved. He is active. He is in this. This is clearly a subject that is important to him, not just as a sports fan, not just as a mayor, but as a human being. He wants to break down walls and change people's preconceptions. And you know what? Good for him.
Thank you, Ed Murray. You are a brave and well rounded dude. This is the kind of thoughtful and bold leadership we have been waiting for on these critical issues. Let's get that Sonics Arena FEIS completed now, so we can be ready for the waiting opportunities with the NHL and NBA.