NHL Bags Being Coy: Puts Seattle on Front Street
Coincidence? Yeah, right.
The last real coincidence occurred when two founding fathers died on the same Fourth of July.
And if anything's certain in Gary Bettman's NHL, it's that there's no such thing as coincidence.
Which means this is about putting a team in Seattle.
So with all the pieces falling into place in Vegas -- including a new arena ready to go for 2016-2017 -- time is running short to find a second candidate.
So, dropping all pretenses, the Commish drops the word that other arena sites are under consideration in Seattle, since Chris Hansen's SoDo arena plan is contractually stuck with first plopping an NBA team in his proposed new playpen. Not happening anytime soon. Harken back to three years ago, and take note of all the moving parts:
This is why stories that surfaced earlier this week quoting the Commish about other sites in the Seattle area wasn't an attempt to prod the local politicos. He's now actively cultivating support for those sites, rolling out anybody and their dogs who's mentioned hockey and Seattle in the same breath, and surprising their public officials in the process.
If this isn't a sign that the NHL has unilaterally decided the time is now, one way or another, to award a franchise somewhere in the Puget Sound, then nothing short of a puckhead invasion is coming next.
The good news here is the fast-track approach infers that a new arena elsewhere would be privately financed. Just like what's happening in Las Vegas. And just like the only active stadium in pro sports was: the San Francisco Giants' AT&T Park.
As it should be.
Meanwhile, something similar is on the table in Milwaukee. A local tribe says they'll cover the public funding obligation for a new arena there if they can convert the current one into a casino. Ironically, it was rejected. By a Republican governor, no less.
That loops the league back to metropolitan Seattle, where both alternative sites have their advantages over downtown Seattle:
- Tukwila is close to the Sea-Tac airport, home of the state's largest mall, halfway to Tacoma, and is an intersection for I-90 and I-405.
- Bellevue is the heart of the hi-end Eastside, where dosh flows like liquid gold.
Finally, then, the veneer is down and the gloves are off. Seattle's getting the NHL, dammit, and it'd better be ready to go by 2016-2017. So says the Commish. Almost out loud.