Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times is reporting that the National Hockey League has been in negotiations with a potential ownership group for an expansion franchise, and that the negotiations are so advanced that the league is prepared to announce an expansion franchise shortly after the Sochi Olympics end.
Here is the relevant quote from the story:
“Sources say there have been negotiations between the league and potential ownership groups in Seattle about the cost of expansion fees. To the point where the NHL and local officials could be prepared to make some type of announcement shortly after the Olympic Games in Sochi conclude — at a time the NHL hopes nationwide interest in its sport will be at a high point.
Daly makes no promises about when the NHL will announce expansion plans — despite varying levels of interest already expressed by Seattle, Quebec City, Kansas City and the Toronto suburb of Markham, Ont. But he does suggest the league feels it’s finally solidified some of its more unstable franchises as best it can in the short term.”
If Baker’s report is true, then that means that the NHL is very confident that the proposed SODO Arena is going to become a reality. As a result of this potential announcement the City of Seattle, Chris Hansen, and the rumored ownership group will have already reached an agreement on modifying the MOU so that it is acceptable for a NHL franchise to get construction on the arena started; and therefore put an end to the threat of an expiration date on the arena.
Bringing an NHL franchise to Seattle would not only help get the arena started, it would help start to fill the sports hole that has existed during the winter months. The franchise would also be able to take advantage of the weak point in Root Sports scheduling to a lucrative regional TV contract.
Despite the fact that this report comes from Geoff Baker, there is a lot of evidence out there that makes it seem likely that the NHL is seriously looking into adding a franchise in Seattle:’
- The City of Seattle, the rumored ownership group, and the NHL were heavily in negotiations when the Phoenix Coyotes were struggling to get a lease done in Glendale. At that time the league was comfortable enough with the MOU to have Seattle as the back-up plan for the Coyotes if everything fell apart in the desert.
- Seattle is rumored to have multiple ownership groups that are interested in partnering with Chris Hansen to build the Arena and bring a NHL team to Seattle.
- As I noted earlier, the team should be able to secure a very lucrative regional TV contract.
It will be interesting to see whether or not the NHL announces an expansion within the time frame that as written in the article.
There is a reason for hope when it comes to Seattle getting its new arena built.
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