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No NHL tenant required to build new Seattle arena

May 16, 2012, 4:11 PM EDT

Seattle Getty Images

It’s hard to say if this is good or bad news for Seattle hockey fans, but here it is anyway – the city announced today that it’s reached an agreement with hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen to build an arena in hopes of landing an NBA team. However, unlike before, an NHL franchise is no longer required as a second tenant for construction to start.

From the Associated Press:

Only an NBA team, with a non-relocation agreement signed, is needed to begin construction on the proposed 18,500-seat facility.

The city/county investment in the project would be capped at $200 million if both an NBA and NHL team are acquired and would be capped at $120 million if it’s only an NBA team. The agreement calls for $290 million in private investment.

Now, the pessimist would say this is proof there isn’t an NHL team available for relocation, or else they wouldn’t have had to go this route.

But the optimist would say, at least a building will be waiting and ready if if an NHL franchise becomes available in the future. (Assuming an NBA team is relocated first.)

  1. buffalomafia - May 16, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    C’mon! Get a hockey team too!

    Basketball is boreing! The last minute of the game lasts longer than the first 3 quarters!

    • nothanksimdriving123 - May 16, 2012 at 5:00 PM

      Can anyone please explain why 5 college graduates need three 60-second reminders in the last minute of a game that they are losing and would benefit from repeatedly getting the ball into the hoop, and should perhaps try to get it to an open player, ideally their best shooter? Just curious.

      • yarjator - May 16, 2012 at 5:51 PM

        Hah, college graduates.

        “Why even call plays on the last drive of a football game? Just throw it to your best receiver!” That’s you.

  2. supr49er - May 16, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Another West Coast team would be fantastic.

  3. bleedingteal4life - May 17, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    If Seattle had a hockey team it would become the new Jerusalem!!!

  4. mmoe5150 - May 17, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    This is absolutely good news for hockey in Seattle. If the deal required both NBA and NHL teams be acquired to start construction on the facility, it would never happen. The chances of bringing both teams in the same time window are almost non-existent. Bringing NBA will be a much easier first step because there’s already a viable short term venue for them to play in; Key Arena. The Key won’t be good enough for even temporarily housing an NHL team (as anyone who watched the WHL Thunderbirds play in there would attest), so the only way we get NHL is if the facility already is built.

    Get the NBA team, build the new facility, then get the NHL team. That sounds like a much more likely sequence than getting both at the same time. The way I see it, the city allowing the deal to not hinge on having both means the facility will likely be a done deal and eventually NHL will be in Seattle. The moment the City Council approves the deal, Hansen can start the next step; get the Sonics (either by relocation or the less likely expansion). They then move into the Key while the arena construction starts, giving Hansen nearly 3 years to get the NHL end lined up while the construction is in progress. They could very likely still have an NHL team there for the first available season!

    If the city required both NBA and NHL to begin construction, I think the arena deal would have been dead in the water, which would have meant no chance at the NHL in Seattle. Plus, there is still a $75 million dollar incentive for Hansen to have both, since he would be on the hook for the King County portion if only the NBA is there ($5 million vs. $80 million). That’s a pretty big incentive to get an NHL partner involved. This was good news indeed for both NBA and NHL fans.

    As to the availability of an NHL franchise to move, whether there is or not I find it hard to believe the NHL would even consider moving a team until the shovels are in the ground. It would be pointless to negotiate until there is no longer any uncertainty as to when a viable facility is going to be in place and open for business.

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