Seattle Lays Out Plan for NHL Arena

Seattle mayor Mike McGinn / KING 5Seattle announced a proposal today that would put a new NHL-caliber arena in the city's stadium district. And as a Seattleite, I'm thrilled at the prospect!

The question of whether the Emerald City will again be home to pro hockey is by no means answered with this announcement, but it sure is a step in the right direction. So what other hurdles need to be cleared to make it a reality?

The proposal comes from hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, who apparently has money to burn — almost $300 million, in fact. Of course the only way he'll burn it is if he's guaranteed some kind of return up front.

Meaning this: unless both an NHL and NBA team can be lined up to occupy the building on Day 1, this whole thing is dead in the water.

There's good news and bad news then. The bad news first. He's more a fan of the NBA than the NHL. So he'll probably work harder to bring basketball back to town. (Seattleites would be thrilled; I'd be indifferent.) The good news for hockey fans here in Seattle? Getting an NHL team might actually be easier.

As we are painfully aware, the Phoenix Coyotes are in bad shape. Another season in Glendale seems like a longshot (sorry, Coyotes fans). There's been talk of sending them to Quebec or Ontario, but 1) Bettman would never go for it, and 2) certainly there's money to be made on expansion fees down the line. After all, neither of those markets have NHL arenas yet — though they're well on their way.

The upshot is there would be a place in Seattle for the Coyotes while a new arena is built. Part of the new arena deal would involve the two new teams playing at Key Arena during construction. I've never actually been to an event there (not a huge fan of the WNBA) but everything I've heard about it is bad. But as a temporary home, I'm sure there are worse buildings.

As for the NBA, I'm sure other blogs can offer better coverage. But my understanding is that Sacramento is working hard to keep the Kings — which may be in vain — but that Anaheim is a more likely place for them to relocate. Elsewhere, the New Orleans Hornets are, like the Coyotes, owned by the league. And it sounds like the NBA wants back in Seattle anyway — as long as we have a suitable building.

So why the blog post on this subject? My excitement aside, I thought you guys might like to spend some time talking about the "what ifs." As in, what if the NHL really did come to Seattle? How would you like to see that work?

Seattle Metropolitans jersey / M Jarred SheltonI'm not in favor of stealing other city's teams, but expansion is out of the question right now. Let's say it's the Coyotes. Do they change the name? If so, to what? Many have suggested Metropolitans — the name of the city's original hockey team and winner of the first Stanley Cup awarded to an American-based club (1917). 

The Seattle Totems played here between 1958 and 1975. But my personal favorite is Seattle Breakers. Just has a good ring to it. I can hear myself cheering "Go Breakers!" (unlike Mets or Totems). Plus, the Breakers sound like a hockey team. And think of the marketing slogans.

I also like Sounders but that's taken by our MLS team. Another good name, Seattle Storm, is taken by the WNBA.

What about divisional realignment? Obviously, the NHL wants a major overhaul, but if they don't get it, should Seattle remain in the Pacific division, or move the Northwest? It was a question I raised on Twitter earlier tonight. The response, by far, was that Seattle needs to be in the same division as Vancouver. I agree. In our inaugural season, we have to be able to rub our Stanley Cup in the faces of Canucks fans.

Any other ideas for Seattle? If you've got concept art, please send it along. I'm hoping to relaunch the Concepts page this weekend with a completely new format. I'd love to kick things off with my town!