When the Seattle Supersonics left town, fans were left wondering if a new team would ever come back. If Chris Hansen has his way, they’ll get that – and perhaps more.
Hansen is the main investor in a deal that would bring a new arena to the city, one that would house an NBA team. The $490 million deal has the support of Seattle City Council and could get a final vote this coming week with no objections. But in the midst of finalizing the deal, at least one member of the council has found that support for a new Seattle team doesn’t lean toward basketball, but toward hockey.
All signs point toward having an NHL team there: a natural rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks, an influx of new residents from the Midwest and Northeast who grew up with hockey and the fact that Seattle has hockey in its sports history – the Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup back in 1917. However, a major stumbling block to bringing an NHL team to the city has been the lack of an arena.
Hansen has said all along that his priority is bringing basketball back to Seattle. The deal hinges solely on whether an NBA team would find a home in the city – there will be no arena without a team in place first.
An environmental review of the area would also need to be completed. But if everything falls into place, a fast tracked timeline could see a new arena. The proposed new arena, which must accommodate both hockey and basketball according to the final deal, could open its doors by the fall of 2015.
Once the deal is in place, a team is found and ground is broken, the city would purchase the arena and land. The difference for Hansen would lie with how many teams would call that arena home. If there is only a basketball team there, the price would be $120 million. But if hockey is added, the price would be $200 million. The addition of a hockey team would be hard for Hansen to ignore financially.
It’s not a stretch to say that hockey could come to Seattle. With the league’s suggested realignment plan, two teams could be added, making for four even conferences. If all goes its way, Seattle could be in the running for a franchise and have a team within five years.
For hockey fans in the Northwest, it would be their own dream come true.