The Seattle hockey community smells its chance to land an NHL franchise.
After spending the last five years either hoping that the NBA would come and trigger the construction of a hockey friendly arena, or yearning for an arena solution that would allow for an “NHL first” scenario, the group is beginning to embrace OVG’s proposed KeyArena renovation.
It’s not hard to understand why. The community watched helplessly a couple years ago when none of the numerous expected NHL expansion applications were submitted to the league. No one at the time could get their arena act together. Victor Coleman was unable to come to a deal with Chris Hansen. Team Tukwila lost its financing at the last minute. Bellevue was... well... Bellevue.
While no one was ready last time, that won’t be the case next time if this new proposal is approved. OVG co-founder Tim Lieweke is pushing an aggressive timeline where construction would begin next year and complete in September of 2020. It is widely believed that the league will open expansion again next year to even up the number of franchises. It is also widely believed that the NHL is waiting for Seattle have “steel coming out of the ground” (though it likely won’t wait forever).
If the time frame holds, Seattle’s NHL franchise could take the ice when the arena opens.
At Monday’s meeting of the City Council’s Select Committee on Civic Arenas, NHL fans showed up in large numbers, with sweaters donned, to praise the merits of the proposal and to express their excitement at the chance to bring professional hockey to Seattle.
NHLtoSeattle founder John Barr couldn’t have been more pleased with the turnout.
“Ten thirty AM on a Monday is tough time to get a lot of working folks out so it was great to see the hockey crowd turn out today,” Barr said. “Clearly people are optimistic of the chances the NHL comes here sooner than later. The turnout is starting to show that optimism.”
CM Sally Bagshaw to next public commenter: "I take it you like hockey." pic.twitter.com/21XtkfQWMJ— Geoff Baker (@GeoffBakerTIMES) September 18, 2017
Hockey fans should be cautiously optimistic about the opportunity before them. This project has a broad base of support and very little political resistance. Some excitement might even be in order if they are feeling daring.
This might be their chance,. They can smell it.