NHL + Seattle = When? The Sounders Might Provide a Clue
Long ago, in a city far away from the NHL offices in New York City ...
A new stadium was a virtual requirement if its NFL team was going to be kept from relocating to Anaheim by its evil absentee owner. The odds were long; the dude was a spiff, alienating almost everyone in a calculated attempt to move the team. Public sentiment was opposed to paying for a new playpen for the 1%ers and their perceived toys. It was clear that those who were fighting to keep the team in place needed an innovative strategy.
Because it was equally clear the house was eventually going to be brought down for one reason (replacements) or another (no tenants; the Mariners already had their new stadium).
They first found a local owner, a kajillionaire who was born, raised, and became wealthy in his home town. But he wasn't going to just toss dosh at a mega-million construction project seen as a luxury item. So he only bought an option to purchase, and then the strategists hit upon an obvious but still brilliant idea.
They recruited another strong demographic group who would support a public referendum to raise taxes to cover partial costs for the stadium.
From that moment on, every artist's rendering of the new facility featured a soccer game in progress. The tactic was transparent to hardened observers, but it worked. Spectacularly. And that's how the Seattle Sounders were vital in keeping the Seahawks in town.
Then, a strange thing happened. What seemed to be a cynical exploitation of the city's soccer community turned out to be anything but. They not only supported their team in numbers, they created a culture around it that is arguably stronger than that of the Seahawks:
Fast forward to the present, as the mating ritual between the NHL and Seattle continues in the most bizarre of ways.
First, the NHL said it was coming. Then, Seattle's city fathers asked how. So the NHL backtracked and said it was not. But the Commish and his head henchman just made another visit with a new serious owner in tow, but not serious enough for the mayor and his council.
So, once again, a facilities issue in Seattle is jeopardizing an opportunity to enhance its standing in the professional sports world.
It's clear the city fathers don't want to unravel what they've already got in hand as regards an agreement to partially fund a new arena. It's even understandable. But they truly need to review their own history, realize that then is now, and emerge from the dark side.