Seattle Arena

Why the Seattle City Council’s reported stance on the hockey first option is a mistake

Seattle City Councilmen Tim Burgess has stated that he does not believe that the Memorandum of Understanding — between Chris Hansen and the City — will be renegotiated to allow for a NHL first option. This statement comes on the heels of some optimistic reports that the  National Hockey League was looking at expanding to Seattle. Now, any hope of expansion appears to be dead in the water.

In his response to SportsPressNW, Burgess says that the Council is unlikely to renegotiate the MOU because they feel that the financial risk is to high with a hockey first option. He says that it: “…it was quite clear that the financial risk to the city increased dramatically with the NHL-first scenario” during the initial MOU negotiations; it is also said in that article that Hansen is a basketball guy, and is primarily focused on bringing back the Sonics.

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This decision is one that is incredibly short-sighted by the City of Seattle. It basically puts the City at a disadvantage when it comes to the value of the entertainment options during the winter. Another problem that this decision presents is that it harms the ability of the SODO Area to grow in the future; especially with the news that the Port of Seattle is negotiating a merger with its rival, the Port of Tacoma.

While it isn’t clear, yet, how the merger works out. It would make sense that the City would have a plan to redevelop the area in case the Port negotiations fell apart and the Port of Seattle goes belly up.

Hansen and his arena plan provide a perfect pan for redevelopment, because of the entertainment district that he wants to build in between Safeco Field and the proposed arena site. The proposed entertainment district would employ hundreds of people year round to help handle the crowds brought to the area by the Mariners (trolololol), Seahawks, Sounders FC, and the potential NHL team. But it is highly unlikely that this district happens unless the City gets an NHL (possibly NBA?) franchise and the arena on the SODO site.

Thanks to Burgess’s statement, it seems like that the arena isn’t getting built for a NHL team. That the arena has to be built for a NBA team and then the NHL could come to the City, and that’s just dumb.

Although, it should be noted that Burgess’s statement shows that he isn’t completely involved in the discussion when it comes to the NHL. He says that there was no negotiations between the potential NHL owners and the City when the Phoenix Coyotes were in danger of relocating to Seattle. He made that statement despite the fact that the NHL had stated that Seattle was ‘Plan B’, while Phoenix was ‘Plan A’.

So it would be wise to question whether or not he speaks for the entire City Council.

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