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Seattle takes big step toward landing NHL team


If you’ve followed arena and ownership situations in sports for even a few years, you likely know that these situations can take as many twists and turns as any back-and-forth game.

Still, this week could be crucial in Seattle landing an NHL and/or NBA team at some point, as its city council voted 7-1 in favor of a $660 million plan to get an arena ready for both sports.

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times wonders if an NHL franchise announcement could come in mere months:

With the deal in place, the NHL is expected in coming months to make a franchise announcement regarding Seattle. The league could award an expansion franchise or have a team relocate here from an existing market struggling to have a new arena built — with Arizona or Calgary the two most likely franchises.

Baker and King 5’s Chris Daniels note that the plan is to have the building ready for action by October 2020. Daniels provides more background regarding some of the power players involved when it comes to bring an NHL team to Seattle, and it all sounds pretty promising for the market’s chances.

There is widespread belief inside Seattle City Hall that Oak View will now make a serious pitch to the NHL to be an anchor tenant in the new building. UW grad and billionaire David Bonderman has met with multiple council members. Bonderman is an investor in the project and a minority owner of the NBA’s Boston Celtics. OVG has publicly identified him as the potential lead investor in an NHL franchise. The NHL Board of Governors is meeting later this week. Jeremy Jacobs, of the Boston Bruins, is the head of the BOG and also an identified partner of OVG.

The Oak View Group shares mock-ups of what an NHL/NBA-ready arena might look like here.

Hockey agent Allan Walsh provided an interesting vote of confidence, too:

You can go blue in the face debating the merit of Seattle vs. markets such as Quebec City, but this could be cool if handled well, particularly since the hypothetical team (it’s too greedy to want them to be the Sonics, right?) would boast a ready-made rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks.

One can already sense the “Grit’N’Grunge” promotions, the bad references to Kurt Cobain/grunge/plaid, and maybe the occasional palate cleanser by way of inane references to Starbucks.

A lot of this is entertaining, and as unappealing as it is to kill the mood like another day of rain, it’s still important to note that we’re still very early in the process. Construction hasn’t begun and the NHL hasn’t made a concrete announcement regarding these developments.

In other words, we’re more at the “Bleach” stage of things and are a few key developments away from striking a chord with “Nevermind.”

(Yeah, those grunge references are going to be rough.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.