The NHL to Seattle rumors that Seattle Times investigative reporter Geoff Baker started a month ago received a major boost on Tues. March 13th; when King 5 reporter Chris Daniels broke the story that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettmand and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly flew to Seattle to meet with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King Country Executive Dow Constantine. This meeting occurred last week.
According to Daniels, the meeting consisted of Bettman and Daly getting to know Murray and Constantine, as well as receive an update on the SODO Arena;
“Constantine spokesman Frank Abe described the meeting between Bettman and Constantine as a “meet and greet” and that “nothing was really brewing right now.”
NHL Spokesman Frank Brown confirmed the meeting Tuesday, and said “Commissioner Bettman met with the Mayor while on the West Coast for playoff games. The purpose of the meeting was solely to obtain a status report on the new arena.”
The arena situation has been the major NHL roadblock in expanding to the Emerald City since the 1995 renovation of the Key Arena — 19-years and counting. Since the NHL has publicly expressed interest in Seattle, if it weren’t for those pesky arena issues, it shouldn’t be surprising that the league’s top two officials were checking in on the area’s most promising arena plan since 1990.
This is probably little more than Bettman and Daly wanting to hear about the arena from the perspective of the public share holders (the ones that will be investing in the building whether it’s an NHL or NBA franchise that gets it built).
As for a SODO Arena update, Daniels also covers that in his article:
“Bryan Stevens, spokesperson for the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, said on Tuesday that the environmental review on the project is now not scheduled to be completed until “sometime this fall”. He added, that he believed, that there had been “no measurable movement” in the last few weeks.”
This shouldn’t be surprising either, the NBA hasn’t publicly expressed any interest in expanding and Arena investors Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer are primarily interested in building the arena for a basketball franchise. It makes sense neither of them are going to spend their money on a hockey first arena option, when it doesn’t appear that a NBA franchise isn’t on the way anytime soon — although SonicsRising Managing Editor Kevin Nesgoda disagrees with that statement.
All in all, it’s good that these two parties are talking and getting to know each other in person. It helps bring about familiarity with one another, and that might lead to a good result for Seattle sports fans.