Bettman: No reason for NHL to focus on Seattle in absence of arena

Posted: 21/03/2017 in NHL, Sports
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Build it and they may come.

Amidst his Western Canada media tour, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was in Vancouver on Thursday and spoke about the possibility of an NHL future in bordering Seattle.

“There’s been a lot of talk for a long period of time about a building or not, and frankly if the city ever gets it act together on a building, then maybe there will be a reason for us to focus on it,” Bettman told reporters. “I’m not saying it will happen if there is a reason, but there’s no reason to focus on it in the absence of a building.”

Local businessman Chris Hansen has been connected with building a new arena in the city, but with a focus on returning the NBA to Seattle. The SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008.

Seattle has often been mentioned as a new market for the NHL, and an addition in the Pacific Northwest would create a natural rival for the Canucks.

The city has a rich history of hockey. In 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup. Forty-five years later, KeyArena opened and played host to the WHL’s Thunderbirds from 1985 to 2008, when the team left for nearby Kent.

In the meantime, a local Seattle group, led by Tim Leiweke, who has previously been part of both the NHL and NBA, wants to renovate KeyArena in order to accelerate the city’s efforts in attracting a pro team.

Leiweke told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times that he believes KeyArena can be brought up to par in three to four years. It’s a similar time frame to the construction of the new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, which broke ground in 2014 and will open to the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights next season.

Still, Leiweke was quick to add Seattle will need to build its team through expansion, noting neither the NHL or NBA sees a franchise relocation on the horizon.

“We believe that there is no franchise today in the NHL or in the NBA that is in danger of being lost as an opportunity over the next few years,” Lieweke told Baker. “And we believe that should Gary Bettman make a decision to expand, that if you look at the last process they just went through, it was a three- to four-year process to get that building built and to get that (Las Vegas) team up and running this next season.”


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