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Seattle Aims to Wow NHL Owners

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Fans cheer at the ShoWare Center in Kent after the Seattle Thunderbirds scored a goal during a recent Western Hockey League game against the Portland Winterhawks. Photo: AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

By Evan Weiner |

On October 2, a group of Seattle investors will make what might be their final pitch to the 31 National Hockey League owners in an effort to land an expansion franchise that could start in 2020. Virtually everything those 31 owners will demand of the Seattle backers, including about $650 million to join the club, will be presented. If all goes well, Seattle will join the NHL and those owners will be enriched by about $21 million each for doing nothing except welcoming Seattle into the league. The players will see none of that money although additional playing jobs will be created.

Seattle’s backers, the Oak View Group has hired the NHL’s most powerful owner Boston’s Jeremy Jacobs’ Delaware North business to provide concessions in the Seattle arena that Oak View Group is rebuilding. Oak View Group has a partner in Madison Square Garden in the concert business and has joined with the New York Islanders ownership in the construction of the team’s proposed arena at Belmont Park on the New York City, Nassau County border. The Oak View Group has also scored the New York hat trick as they partnering with Elevate, a ticket company partially owned by the New Jersey Devils owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer. Oak View Group has at least four backers in NHL ownership.

Seattle has the three requirements to run a successful franchise. There is government support as evidenced with the rebuilding of the arena. Seattle is a good TV market. Seattle’s corporate market is pretty significant. The NHL will get a Pacific Northwest United States market, one the league wanted in the 1970s but that never materialized. The NHL awarded Seattle an expansion team for the 1976-77 season but there was a money issue and Seattle was forgotten. Seattle’s Oak View Group has the right stuff to join the National Hockey League.

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

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