NHL Could be Coming to SeattleBy Connor Lynch
Seattle could be on the way to getting its first NHL franchise. On Monday, Seattle City Council approved a memorandum of understanding to redevelop KeyArena. The Council voted 7 -1 in favor of a private $660 million fund.
The plan is being financed the Oak View Group and would have the new stadium ready by October 2020. This is subject to environmental approvals which must be obtained by October 2018. Currently, the Seattle Storm of the WNBA play their home games at the KeyArena.
It was previously the NBA home of the Oklahoma City Thunder, who played there as the Seattle Supersonics before 2008.
According to the Seattle Times, “there are hints that the NHL could make a Seattle Franchise announcement in the coming months.” An announcement is expected in July.
Despite this, the National Hockey League may not be looking to expand in the coming years. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said last month that the league is “not in an expansion process”.
However, a new NHL team in Seattle would make a lot of sense. One benefit would be the creation of a geographic rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks.
“I think we have a belief in the Pacific Northwest. It’s good hockey territory. It’s kind of more obvious than some of the other areas,” said deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly in 2014.
Franchises on the move?
A new hockey team in Seattle would also balance the league’s eastern and western conferences at 16 teams each. Other cities vying for an NHL team of their own are Quebec and Houston.
Another scenario would involve an existing NHL team relocating. The Calgary Flames and the Arizona Coyotes are two franchises who could potentially make the move. Neither franchise has a clear future in their current arena.
As of this season there are 31 teams in the NHL. The newest of which is the Vegas Golden Knights who were established this season by owner Bill Foley.