The city of Seattle has once again popped up in the discussions surrounding NHL expansion. While all of the focus has been on Las Vegas, the Sonics Arena group has been pushing forward with their effort to build a stadium which may serve as the home of a future NHL or NBA team. The group recently received their final environmental impact statement and are now approved to move forward to secure the final construction permits. In the release providing the update on the project, the group specifically mentioned the NHL and stated they’re not opposed to bringing in a hockey team before a basketball team.
We also wanted to take the opportunity to reiterate that we remain 100% supportive of the NHL returning to Seattle and playing in the Arena — and are completely open to the prospect of that occurring prior to the NBA. In light of recent speculation, we would just like to clarify that we have sought to be as accommodating as possible in our negotiations with potential NHL partners, with our only major requirements being that such a deal does not jeopardize the process or put the City, County, Taxpayers or us in a worse financial position.
The rumors connecting the NHL to Seattle have been around for quite some time, but this may be the first time that the group has extended the idea of an NHL team moving in before an NBA team. The two sports have usually been discussed at the same time, but it has always been believed that the NBA was the top prize and the NHL would be a strong second tenant.
The NHL returning to Seattle makes a lot of sense. There’s already a strong hockey background in the area (The 1917 Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup) and the city would be an ideal Western Conference team to round out the league’s two conferences. The days of a lopsided East-West split would be over, assuming both the Vegas and Seattle teams pan out.