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Report: Seattle building a new arena to lure hockey team?

Jul 2, 2011, 9:00 AM EST

Storm Saviors Basketball AP

There is a report out of Seattle that Chicago businessman Don Levin has plans to build an arena on the Eastside of Seattle to house a potential NHL team. The business group has not decided on a specific location, nor have they identified a potential NHL franchise—but they have a few prospective locations in the greater Seattle area.  The same report states that Levin is headed to Seattle to check out a few of the possible sites for himself.

Don Levin is a name that may sound familiar to sports fans in the Chicagoland area since he’s currently the owner of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. Unfortunately, the last time we heard about a Chicago businessman getting involved with the NHL, it ended with a frustrated Matthew Hulsizer withdrawing from the Coyotes’ ownership nightmare. Everyone hopes this is a better situation.

KIRO7 in Seattle has the scoop:

“KIRO 7 has confirmed, from various highly placed government and community sources, that discussions are in the works to build an arena on the Eastside that would house a potential NHL team, with the ability to transform the venue into a basketball arena, and bring NBA basketball back to the greater Seattle area.

KIRO 7 sources indicate that Chicago businessman Don Levin has been in town recently meeting with various stakeholders about the new arena.

By looking to build a new arena in a hockey-less market, the scavengers will start looking at struggling NHL franchise around North America. Obviously, the Phoenix Coyotes ownership situation is still in flux with no owners, nor resolution in sight. The Dallas Stars are desperately looking for an owner, but the metroplex has proven to be a viable hockey market ever since they landed in Texas in 1993. The same goes for the Blues ownership situation and the St. Louis market. Both areas have proven to have rabid fanbases when their team has a fighting chance on the ice.

In ways, this situation sounds strikingly similar to the Sprint Center in Kansas City. Anschutz Entertainment Group built the Sprint Center in hopes of luring the Penguins (or later the Islanders) to Missouri when they broke ground in 2005. They’ve been looking for a permanent NHL or NBA tenant since they officially opened the doors in 2007.

For people who want Seattle to become a viable contender for a relocating/expansion franchise, a new arena is the first step towards hope. The Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League used to call Key Arena home, but just because it was acceptable for a WHL team doesn’t mean it would work for an NHL team. The NBA made a strong statement about Key Arena when the Seattle Supersonics moved to Oklahoma City—due in large part to concerns about the arena.

People can debate whether Seattle would be a viable market for a future NHL team, but there’s no question that the market is certainly in the discussion. Right now, the two biggest problems facing the arena are: they don’t have a suitable arena and there isn’t an available team. If Levin follows through with a state-of-the-art arena on the Eastside, he’ll provide a solution to the first part of that equation.

As for luring an NHL team? That part isn’t quite as easy. Just ask Jim Balsillie.

  1. whatagreatfootballmind - Jul 2, 2011 at 10:03 AM

    Let the Coyotes to Seattle rumors begin!

    Some team is going to get a heck of a deal to move. What team that is who knows, but if they can (as a smart business owner knows) pit Seattle and Kansas City against each other to get a sweeter deal.

    The only question that hasn’t been asked, does Vancouver have Seattle in their territory rights? Might have to pay off the ‘Couv to make that dream happen.

    • warpstonebc - Jul 2, 2011 at 1:41 PM

      Doubt Vancouver cares. They have sell out crowds regardless of out of province interest. A good local rivalry might even be a good thing.

  2. Mike - Jul 2, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    According to Google Maps Seattle and Vancouver are about 140 miles apart, and it appears that territorial rights used to be only a 50 mile radius. It’s unclear to me if that’s still true, but I did find this HFBoards post that discusses the concept a bit further: http://hfboards.com/showpost.php?s=7960beaf4bb218f20cd688bb5ef8bad5&p=19112559&postcount=2

    So yeah, Seattle probably has no worries when it comes to the NHL and territorial rights.

  3. donttouchthedirtypenny - Jul 2, 2011 at 10:55 AM

    I’ve said on here before that Seattle would be a good spot for a team. NHL should also consider Portland, as they get good support for their junior league team there. The Sabres were close to moving there 10 years ago. Would create a great regional division with the CA teams and Vancouver.

  4. donttouchthedirtypenny - Jul 2, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    The NHL will look better with teams in Seattle, Portland, Winnipeg, Quebec, and maybe Hamilton and Saskatoon than in places like Atlanta, Phoenix, Miami, and Nashville.

    • nhlbruins90 - Jul 2, 2011 at 9:21 PM

      In case you missed it, Nashville has a pretty hot franchise right about now.

  5. t9tookey - Jul 2, 2011 at 11:54 AM

    The NHL finally realizes that they can’t sell to a buyer that will keep the team in Phoenix. The ‘Yotes either end up in KC or end up in KeyArena till the new arena is completed. Eventually, the Panthers will want to relocate and end up in which ever market doesn’t get the ‘Yotes. That’ll leave Quebec with the Blue Jackets decide they can’t make it in Columbus.

    • cannonblast14 - Jul 2, 2011 at 1:14 PM

      Jackets will be fine in Columbus.

  6. whatagreatfootballmind - Jul 2, 2011 at 12:48 PM

    I don’t see Florida moving. They still average over 15,000 per game. However that is towards the bottom of the NHL. But still drawing 15,000+ for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 10 years, is still good. In fact the last time Florida made the playoffs, Minnesota and Columbus didn’t exist and the now defunct Atlanta Thrashers were an expansion team. Miami/Fort Lauderdale is a top 15 market. Would they move them to Kansas City who ranks 31st, behind Indianapolis, Hartford, and San Diego?

    Florida’s attendance has increased 5 of the past 7 years, and still with no playoff caliber team. They had drawn over 18,500 per game before. As with just about any team, if you create a winning product, your going to sell more tickets. I would consider moving New Jersey, Colorado, Columbus, Nashville, Islanders, and Coyotes before Florida. All of those teams have made the playoffs m

  7. whatagreatfootballmind - Jul 2, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    I don’t see Florida moving. They still average over 15,000 per game. However that is towards the bottom of the NHL. But still drawing 15,000+ for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs in 10 years, is still good. In fact the last time Florida made the playoffs, Minnesota and Columbus didn’t exist and the now defunct Atlanta Thrashers were an expansion team. Miami/Fort Lauderdale is a top 15 market. Would they move them to Kansas City who ranks 31st, behind Indianapolis, Hartford, and San Diego?

    Florida’s attendance has increased 5 of the past 7 years, and still with no playoff caliber team. They had drawn over 18,500 per game before. As with just about any team, if you create a winning product, your going to sell more tickets. I would consider moving New Jersey, Colorado, Columbus, Nashville, Islanders, and Coyotes before Florida. All of those teams have made the playoffs more recently than Florida and all draw around the same or less than Florida.

    Want to talk about not supporting, look at Colorado. Used to draw 18,007 a game when Pepsi Center opened. Now that the novality and the superstars they had are gone, they struggled to get 13,000. Almost 2,500 less than Florida.

    • tmoore4075 - Jul 8, 2011 at 1:28 PM

      It’s cause they can’t be consistent winners. Avs were doing fine before the last couple of years. Making the playoffs then missing them. Then making them, then missing them. NJ is not going anywhere and Nashville actually draws well now.

  8. safecofaithful - Jul 2, 2011 at 1:51 PM

    The Thunderbirds do not play in Key Arena in Seattle. They play in Kent at the ShoWare Center. They moved years ago. Just pointing that out …

    • alysocool - Jul 11, 2011 at 8:51 PM

      The article said “The Seattle Thunderbirds of the Western Hockey League used to call Key Arena home.” Key words, used to

  9. nhlbruins90 - Jul 2, 2011 at 9:24 PM

    I thought Seattle might be a good spot for an NHL franchise, but after seeing the TV ratings during the playoffs, maybe not. Strangely, Las Vegas was one of the strongest non-NHL TV markets.

    • goforthanddie - Jul 2, 2011 at 10:02 PM

      Wonder why people in Vegas would be interested in professional hockey?

      • whatagreatfootballmind - Jul 3, 2011 at 2:27 PM

        The same reason ANY professional sport won’t put a franchise there.

  10. goforthanddie - Jul 2, 2011 at 10:11 PM

    Seattle or Portland would be good destinations. And Portland has a hockey-ready arena. Seattle really doesn’t seem interested in buying a new arena, but that’s understandable.

    • whatagreatfootballmind - Jul 3, 2011 at 2:28 PM

      What part of “Seattle building new arena” don’t you understand?

  11. derpdederpdederp - Jul 3, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    thankfully someone wants to move a team within the US. we all know Gary Bettman will allow that without blinking an eye. just dont even mention another team coming to Canada to him because I’m sure his pride can’t take another blow like it did when Winnipeg finally got a team. Bettman will fold up the league and move it to Mexico before Canada gets another team on his watch

  12. tmoore4075 - Jul 8, 2011 at 1:21 PM

    The NHL has talked to Quebec City. It’s possible the NHL will return there one day. They have the same problem as Seattle though, an old arena. Phoenix is almost done, FLA is bleeding money and the Isles still can’t get their arena squared away. I’m hoping they stay however. If CBJ can start winning and fix that lease they’ll be ok. They are getting close to ATL Thrasher territory though. I still think them and Minny were two of the smart expansions.

    There is no clear cut favorite for the Coyotes to land though. No one city is as ready as Winnipeg was. Seattle seems to have ownership group but no arena. KC has the arena but no owner. QC has the owner but no arena. Hamilton has the owner but an older arena, but a lot better than QC or Seattle. But then comes into play Balsille and being close to Buffalo and TO.

  13. fiveforboarding - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    Check out my new hockey blog article on the possibility of Seattle acquiring an NHL team!

    http://fiveforboarding.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/nhl-in-seattle/

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