It has been six years since the NBA’s SuperSonics packed up their bags and headed for Oklahoma City, and ever since the city of Seattle has been trying to get back an NBA team.
According to the Seattle Times, however, the Emerald City may be closer to getting another major sports franchise, but not one that plays on hardwood.
A report first published on Thursday said that a major investment group has emerged to make the hopes of bringing American hockey to the Great Northwest a reality.
Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times wrote that the group is “working with the [NHL], potential arena builder Chris Hansen and top municipal officials to get a deal done.’’
Baker added the following details about the group:
Vancouver, B.C., native Victor Coleman, now a major Los Angeles real estate mogul, and longtime hedge fund manager Jonathan Glaser are heading the group, which has engaged in extensive dialogue with various entities since last year to land an NHL expansion franchise. Their latest step was a meeting last week in Seattle with Mayor Ed Murray, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and others to try to forge common ground on the arena issue.
Baker also reported, however, that Murray said that “the city council is not prepared to rework a Memorandum of Understanding between the city, county and Hansen to build a Sodo arena for a hockey team ahead of an NBA franchise.’’
Seattle has always seemed a ripe place for an NHL franchise, but a team there has never come to fruition during league expansion. The city has a strong sports history with the NFL’s Seahawks, MLB’s Mariners, MLS’s Sounders, and the Sonics before they moved to Oklahoma City.
Seattle holds an interesting place in hockey history, having the distinction of being the first American city to have a team win the Stanley Cup, with the Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association capturing the Cup in 1917, beating the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey Association, the direct predecessor of the NHL.
If Seattle were to be awarded an expansion franchise, it would create an odd number of NHL teams, meaning another may have to be awarded at the same time to balance the numbers. That could work to the benefit of Quebec City, which has been without an NHL team since their beloved Nordiques moved to Denver and in 2012 broke ground on a state-of-the-art arena.
Such an expansion, however, would require another Eastern Conference team to move to the West, allowing the Quebec City franchise to move into their place, so the logistics of adding two more teams and evening the conferences will be something the NHL will have to fully plan out before making any drastic decisions.