NHL commissioner visits Seattle, looks around, doesn’t see new arena, leaves

OMG OMG Gary Bettman went to Seattle! And met with people! About hockey!

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly flew to Seattle last week and met privately with King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. Bettman has publicly stated the league has interest in placing a franchise in the Seattle market, but that “building issues” have gotten in the way.

Constantine spokesman Frank Abe described the meeting between Bettman and Constantine as a “meet and greet” and that “nothing was really brewing right now.”…

It’s unclear why Bettman and Daly made the personal appearance in Seattle, as opposed to discussing matters over the phone.

That’s our old pal Chris Daniels of KING 5 TV reporting, and I should think he knows as well as anyone why they went to Seattle in person: Nobody gets headlines in USA Today for making a phone call. Hop on a plane, though, and it’s Katie, bar the printing presses.

In any event, the only phrase to pay attention to in this whole article is “building issues,” since in this case that means Seattle doesn’t have an arena that can fit hockey, and isn’t going to get a new arena unless it gets an NBA team, so it doesn’t really matter what Bettman and Daly want. It’s great for making Seattle officials look like they’re doing something to try to get a new sports team, though, and for NHL officials to make it look like there are lots of cities vying to get expansion teams, so it’s all good. Except for conveying any actual meaning, if that’s what you expect from your news.

9 comments on “NHL commissioner visits Seattle, looks around, doesn’t see new arena, leaves

  1. Perhaps some current host city is dragging it’s feet on coughing up welfare for it’s local parasite/NHL franchise owner. Nothing like a trip across the country to have dimwit hockey fans stampeding some county/city commissioner’s office for a week.

    The only other ‘benefit’ this trip might generate for the NHL is that it gives Bettman an excuse to tell his employers that “there is interest in an NHL team in Seattle and the city is working on a building” rather than “they don’t want us. They’d let us in if an NBA team came first, maybe, but we’d have to be second banana in the arena and probably 6th or 7th in the pecking order of regional sports”.

    I agree it’s a non story story. However, one thing even those of us who dislike Bettman’s version of the on ice game have to credit him for one thing: He’s convinced an apparently endless string of people that they should want to own an NHL team in a non-core market when there is absolutely no financial benefit to doing so. Yet he keeps turning up apparently willing candidates for the bigger idiot theory of sales & marketing… even though some of the last round have offered lump sum payments if the league would just take back it’s money losing franchises…

  2. Not having an arena that fits a hockey rink didn’t stop the islanders from going to Brooklyn.

  3. Key being renovated for hockey?

  4. I’m not sure how you renovate a place that holds 17,000 for basketball and 15,000 for hockey to hold 17,000 and a hockey rink without making the footprint wider. Plus, the NHL needs to make more money in the arena at concessions, etc which KeyArena isn’t exactly flush with. Sure, you could build something there, but it’s not just tens of millions in renovations.


  5. Knucklehead in that Seattle Times piece is just looking for publicity. Though I am confident that hockey would do better in Seattle than hoops.

  6. I wrote a poem. I think when I am too old to meddle in my football team’s drafts and stuff, I’ll retire to writing ditties.

    Public stadium cash
    public stadium dough
    We can never get enough
    of that free public stuff
    so build us a palace

    Kinda catchy, eh?

  7. KeyArena doesn’t hold 15,000 for hockey. The number is closer to 10-11,000 and a lot of those are endzone seats with only partial views of the floor after former Sonics owner Barry Acklerley thoughtfully made sure the scoreboard was placed in the way (so the NHL couldn’t place a team in the same building and compete for playing dates). The only facility that could conceivably hold enough people for an NHL team on a temporary basis in the Greater Seattle area is the Tacoma Dome, which can seat almost 21,000 for hockey but has awful sightlines and very few amenities. I don’t think there are any luxury boxes, at least none worth mentioning.

    I think Seattle is being used by the NHL the way Tampa Bay was used by MLB in the 1980’s and 1990’s: As a place Bettman and various owners can threaten to move a team to if they don’t get either a new arena or concessions at their present arena in current league cities. While I have no doubt the Seattle market IS attractive to Bettman, as long as there’s no new arena (or if an NBA team gets first crack at playing dates if a new one IS built), there’s no financially-sound reason to place a franchise there under present conditions.

    What makes this whole situation insane is that the MOU requires an NBA team to go in first when the arena is built even though the NHL likely WOULD place a team in Seattle sooner than the NBA. What NHL owner is going to want to move into a building and city where he’ll be treated like the proverbial red-headed stepchild by politicians and media from Day One?

  8. GB:

    No one will want to move under those circumstances. However, if the goal is to raise the extortion price for other prospective host cities, then Seattle works just as well as Los Angeles has for the NFL.

    Whether it’s the Coyotes, Panthers, Jackets or Predators who’s owner has essentially pitched the keys onto the table, the NHL cannot dictate terms to any prospective host unless it can make them believe it has an option.