By: Jeremy Perrigo
Another big step was taken this week in the fight to bring NHL hockey to Seattle. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was formally submitted to the Seattle City Council Tuesday morning, pending approval. Plans for demolition and renovation, led by the Oak View Group, are on track to potentially begin as early as next year to renovate Seattle’s KeyArena into a facility capable of hosting an NHL and NBA franchises along with music events.
CEO of Oak View Group, the company proposing the renovation plans, Tim Leiweke had this to say about the most recent development in the project, "The completion of the MOU provides a level of certainty that Seattle has never had before, and OVG, the City Council, elected officials and the residents of Seattle, must now turn our attention to the NHL and NBA and make it undeniably clear that we are more than ready for them to come to Seattle.”
Other than Leiweke’s statement there are a couple other factors that make NHL expansion all the more likely. Leiweke also stated that he has the backing and support of Billionaire David Bonderman as a potential NHL franchise owner. Reports state that Bonderman has been spotted at Seattle City Hall and has met with council members.
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray was expected to speak and present photos of the plans Tuesday. However, intensifying sex-abuse allegations kept him from taking the podium. Murray then resigned later in the day.
A statement from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daley said Tuesday, “"We can confirm the group has expressed strong interest in owning and operating an NHL team. We continue to monitor."
This statement from Daley is vague, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has continued to state that the NHL will not look into Seattle until the City has an actual plan in motion. However, when comparing statements from the NHL Commissioners to the statement made by NBA Spokesman Mike Bass, it seems obvious that the NHL is showing more interest. Bass stated, “The NBA is not involved in the ongoing Seattle arena process, and we have no plans to expand at this time.”
Seattle is the No.14 media market in the country, it is hard to imagine that Bettman and the NHL would not be interested in expansion if plans go through. Those plans may be approved as early as December, and if that is the case, the dream of an NHL franchise coming to Seattle might seem more like a reality.