On Monday evening, the Seattle City Council approved a $600 million renovation of KeyArena. With the renovation deal in place, the NHL is expected to announced a franchise in Seattle in the coming months.
Having an NHL team in Seattle has been rumored for years. In 2015, RLB Holdings Sports and Entertainment Group filed a zoning code interpretation request for a new arena in the suburbs of Seattle. However, no application was received by the application deadline of July 20, 2015.
In June of 2017, Oak View Group announced sincere intentions to bring hockey to Seattle. The league had said they were closely monitoring Seattle, but until an arena project is under construction there would be no further discussions.
On Monday, the council voted a remarkable 7-1 to approve a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the city and the Oak View Group. The MOU is in place for a $600 million renovation of KeyArena that would be completed in time to launch an NHL team during the 2020-21 season.
The prior vote in 2016 for a brand new arena was rejected in a 5-4 vote.
KeyArena, a 15,354 capacity arena, was originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair. Since then, it has held concerts, circuses, college sports, and roller derbies, as well as being the home of the Seattle Supersonics, a NBA team who was relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008. There is hope that a viable arena would also attract a new NBA franchise down the road.
Photo: Oak View Group/Seattle Times
“We still have work to do,” Oak View Group co-founder Tim Leiweke said after the vote to the Seattle Times. “The mayor was elected, and she has the right to ultimately make the final decision. We respect that process, and until she makes that decision we’re not done. And so we’re going to wait on any public comments until we can give the mayor a chance to weigh in on this.”
The mayor is not expected to object.
The NHL is expected to comment on a Seattle franchise by July after an environment-impact study is completed. The addition of a new Western franchise would align the conferences to 16 teams each. However, the league is dealing with arena issues in Arizona and Calgary and a relocation has not been ruled out.
Seattle is home the Seahawks (football), Mariners (baseball), and Sounders (soccer), but have been on the hunt for winter teams since the SuperSonics were relocated. After Monday’s vote, they might not have to wait much longer.
Headline Photo: Seattle Times Sports
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