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Only a Matter of Time Before Seattle Has an NHL Team

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KeyArena in Seattle, Wash. Photo: Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times

If ever a city fit the definition of what is needed to host a successful National Hockey League franchise, you couldn’t do much better than an old hockey city like Seattle. There is government support behind the renovation of the old arena, which was built for the 1962 World’s Fair. There is a pretty good cable TV market and Seattle has some of the biggest corporate names in the world, including Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks, that have a major presence in the market.

The NHL is going to Seattle, the only question is when the NHL gets the reminder of the $650 million expansion fee so that the team can get up and running. A $10 million check has been sent to the league office. The non-existent NHL Seattle team is selling tickets, probably lining up marketing partners and more than likely looking to either the extend deal with the present arena naming rights holder or finding a new partner.

Seattle will have a state of the art renovated building ready in 2020. That’s when Seattle investors hope to drop the puck finally ending a four decades old chase for an NHL team. In the mid-1970s, the NHL planned to put an expansion team in Seattle to go along with Denver in 1976. Seattle NHL expansion backers didn’t have the money to get an expansion team or buy the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise which was bankrupted and available to anyone who wanted the team. The IRS had seized the team when Penguins owners could not pay a $500,000 tax debt.

After the mid-1970s failure to land an NHL team, there was scant interest in the city. There was a new baseball and football team in town. Seattle became a corporate business powerhouse starting in 1979 when a small company named Microsoft moved to the city. Once an arena was available the NHL could not afford to ignore Seattle anymore.

By Evan Weiner For The Politics Of Sports Business

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.

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