Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Da lil Guy on 09/17/13 at 11:25 AM ET
The NHL is apparently watching closely as Seattle's Downtown Design Review Board gets ready for tonight's public review of the design for a proposed NHL/NBA Arena spearheaded by local investor Chris Hansen.
Sources with intimate knowledge of the situation, believe the NHL is now watching the status of the project, and gauging corporate and fan interest in a potential expansion franchise. Hansen has been seeking a partner who could be a tenant in a new building. Sources say NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has been quietly pushing owners to award a franchise to Seattle, perhaps as early as next year. The NHL has denied that any talks have taken place, and sources suggest nothing has been finalized.
The NHL's Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly previously told KING5 there is not even a "handshake agreement" on a deal for a team. But he told fans in Vancouver this summer "I think Seattle would be a great market for the NHL." Ray Bartoczek and Anthony Lanza both expressed interest in buying the Phoenix Coyotes earlier this year, and relocate them to Seattle. The NHL has said repeatedly that playing in Key Arena, on a interim basis, would not be an issue.
Tonight's review will focus on the aesthetic and design aspects of the proposal, but a review of a draft Environmental Impact Study (identifying potential environmental impacts and alternatives) is also ongoing which included public meetings last Friday and this Thursday, and a period for filing written comments closing September 30th. Comments received from the public will be addressed in the final Environmental Impact Study for the proposal. City Staff have identified a number of potential issues that need to be addressed in the 750,000 square foot proposal which calls for the demolition of 8 existing buildings in the Seattle downtown.
The latest design for the proposal was submitted in advance of tonight's meeting.
The Seattle Arena cleared a hurdle last week when the Washington State Court of Appeals ruled the City and King County had not violated the State Environmental Protection Act when they executed a Memorandum of Understanding that contemplated the allocation of up to $200 million in public funds for the arena project. The Court found that the City and County were not bound under the Memorandum of Understanding to accept the Hansen proposal when the required environmental review was completed. Since that lawsuit was filed, a revised Memorandum of Understanding has been signed that envisions an 'NBA only' scenario, which would see only $120-145 Million in public funds invested in the project.
It appears neither the developer, the City, nor the NHL has completely given up on an NHL Franchise eventually locating in the Emerald City - of course, with the relocation of the Phoenix Coyotes off the table, where that team would come from is a matter of speculation.
It may just be too early in the process for the NHL to rule anything out, especially if closing the door completely now results in a final arena that can't take on a franchise if one becomes available down the road.
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