This week, a growing movement to bring the NHL to Seattle has been building momentum. The movement includes a group ready to act now in an effort to bring an NHL team to Seattle. With the excitement of the NHL playoffs and the success of the Vancouver Canucks, our neighbors to the north, it's a good time to make a play for a team. But there are obstacles, and they're significant.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly confirmed a group had contacted the league, but offered little more. He did say the group probably wouldn't be able to act by next season, making it sound as if nothing was imminent.
"We’ve had discussions with a group in Seattle," said Daly, "Certainly people who are interested in having NHL hockey in Seattle. I would rather not get into specifics to be fair to that group, or the process."
While it's a fun story, the group will face the same problems groups trying to bring the NBA back to Seattle have faced. Simply put, Key Arena is not going to work. In the NBA and NHL, an arena must be a revenue stream, and we've passed that point with Key Arena. It's old and outdated, in professional sports terms, and no owner would be satisfied using it as-is.
We know Northwest rivalries can work, as evidenced by the Cascadia Cup in MLS and the fantastic environment seen during the match between the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders just over a week ago. But rivalries and environments only go so far, and are not valid reasons for an ownership group to bring a team to Seattle.
If this plan is going to work, the group trying to bring the NHL to Seattle and the groups trying to bring the NBA to Seattle should join forces and push for an arena, be it in the city or to the east in Bellevue. Neither the NHL or NBA will wander blindly back to Seattle without a new arena in place. It's not practical and it sets the city up to fail once again.
If you build it, they will come has been the mantra of Sonicsgate and other groups working to bring the NBA back. And it rings true no matter the league. We know the Northwest has passionate fans and is an environment professional sports will strive, but the rubber needs to meet the road first. Talk is nice, and the buzz helps, but the region has to put its money where its mouth is. If we truly want a team, private funding must be secured and an a new arena must be built.
You can find more on the NHL movement in Seattle from Travis Hughes at SB Nation here.