The push to bring an NHL team to Seattle may really ramp up one day before the 2018-19 season begins.
Oak View Group confirmed in a press release that they will make a presentation – along with Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan – to the executive committee of the NHL’s Board of Governors on Oct. 2. The parties also laid out details about the continued renovation of KeyArena, which was once home to the NBA’s Seattle Sonics.
“For decades, the Arena has been an iconic part of Seattle, and now the next generation will have incredible arena – home to the country’s best sports teams along with the music and entertainment Seattle Center is known for,” Durkan said in the release. “And trust me, I won’t rest until we have new team banners for our championship Seattle Storm, an NHL team and our Seattle Sonics hanging proudly.”
(The OVG group is headed by Jerry Bruckheimer [yes, that Jerry Bruckheimer], David Bonderman, and Tim Leiweke.)
That same press release noted the addition of some interesting local investors to the project: Amazon executive Andy Jassy and MLS’ Seattle Sounders FC majority owner Adrian Hanauer, along with Christopher and Ted Ackerley, sons of former Sonics owner Barry Ackerley.
“Each of these local investors brings skill and experience that will continue to help us achieve our goals,” Bonderman said in the release. “In our discussions with each of these individuals, it has been clear that they are all committed to securing and building a franchise that is truly Seattle-centric and provides fans an amazing experience at the new Seattle Center Arena.”
It doesn’t appear as though this new group of local minority partners went full Seattle-centric with Starbucks coffee, grunge records, and flannel, but there’s still time. (Hey, Seattle residents, you might as well get used to hackneyed jokes about your culture early on, so other fans can’t bask in you gritting your teeth once/if you finally get a team.)
The stated goal would be to have the arena NHL-ready to begin the 2020-21 season, which wouldn’t be an easy task.
On the bright side, there have been a lot of positive developments during this process lately. Here’s a quick timeline of recent PHT posts on Seattle’s push for an NHL team:
- Leiweke was named team president in April.
- The season ticket drive went so well, it left Leiweke “shell-shocked.” Unfortunately Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were not involved.
- The group really got the ball rolling in February, and the process didn’t get derailed by higher-than-expected costs.
- Granted, the BoG didn’t vote on the matter back in May, so there have been the highs and lows you generally expect in this process, even with things going relatively smoothly.
- Dave Tippett was named as senior advisor, adding a good hockey mind early.
- Will Seattle become a hockey town? There’s an argument that it is, already.
- Release the Seattle Kraken?
So far, mostly good. Of course, that could change – either by getting really good, or hitting a speed bump – depending upon how that Oct. 2 presentation is received. And, of course, there are a bunch of other potential speed bumps, including the lovely threat of a possible lockout eating into at least a portion of that would-be first season in 2020-21. (Welcome to the NHL, Seattle!)
But overall, this is a nice step forward.
If all goes well, hockey might love Seattle back.