Editorial: Bring a professional hockey team to Seattle area
It’s time to drop the puck on plans to bring the NHL to the Seattle area.
Seattle Times Editorial
A CENTURY ago, the Seattle Metropolitans won America’s first Stanley Cup, trouncing the Montreal Canadiens 9-1 before a sellout crowd at the Seattle Arena.
How good would another Stanley Cup look, parked next to the Seahawks’ Vince Lombardi Trophy for the 2014 Super Bowl?
As The Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker reported last week, there are at least two credible new efforts to get a National Hockey League team to King County, with potential sites in Bellevue and Tukwila. The work is far enough along that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman mentioned both possible locations in a recent radio interview.
Both efforts, as described by Baker, stand a chance to survive the complicated process of getting an NHL franchise to the Seattle area. New York investor Ray Bartoszek nearly landed a deal to bring the Phoenix Coyotes to the Seattle area in 2013, and is now aiming for a huge parcel south of Boeing Field owned by Seattle real-estate developer David Sabey. A second group involves former NBA team executive Jac Sperling and a Bellevue site near the future Sound Transit station.
Both are more palatable than the effort, led by hedge-fund manager Chris Hansen, to shoehorn an arena next to Seattle’s working waterfront, with hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies from Seattle. The city’s flawed deal negotiated with Hansen is grinding through a review at Seattle City Hall.
For all the focus on Hansen’s effort to bring the NBA to Seattle, the NHL is the better short-term bet. In a national popularity contest, hockey is neck-and-neck with men’s professional basketball, and the share of devoted fans has climbed consistently for decades, according to a Harris Poll report. In the last full NHL season, 15 teams had sellout crowds, compared to eight NBA teams.
Like Major League Soccer, which hit the net with the enormously popular Seattle Sounders FC, the NHL would find cachet in Seattle. The league offers a fast, thrilling game in person, and it does not carry the NBA’s baggage or reluctance to expand. The region also supports two Western Hockey League teams.
There are myriad complications still to bring the NHL to the region. But fans are ready to drop the puck.
Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Mark Higgins, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, Blanca Torres, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).