NHL officials may be decidedly noncommittal about putting a team in Seattle, but that isn’t stopping the sports media from getting all excited about how Seattle may be getting an NHL team, dudes! Or at least speculating where one would play, with the Seattle Times sports business writer Geoff Baker speculating that maybe a team could play at the existing KeyArena:
With no Sodo arena deal in sight to entice the NHL to award a franchise, [investment banker Ray] Bartoszek is seeking alternatives: the most eye-catching being a proposal to pump tens of millions of dollars into overhauling KeyArena into a modern, NHL-only facility.
“I think we’ve got to get away from this idea that the key to this is through that real estate,’’ Bartoszek said of the Sodo project, still awaiting political approval in a stalled process. “I assumed those guys held the keys to the city and the ability to get this all done. Now, it’s time to look at other approaches.’’
“Eye-catching” would be one word for it. “Cracktastic” would be another. Here’s a seating map of KeyArena for hockey:
Before anyone says anything: Yes, yes, the New York Islanders are going to playing games starting next year at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, which has a similarly screwy hockey layout. But there’s a different between convincing a single NHL owner, stuck in an arena he was unhappy with, to move to a new building with lousy hockey sightlines in order to grab a piece of the lucrative Brooklyn market, and convincing the NHL to give you an expansion team over a bunch of other similar mid-sized cities without an NHL-friendly arena.
Look, I would dearly love for a way for Seattle to get a new sports franchise without having to go through the expense of building a whole new arena. (Among other things, the world doesn’t need the carbon footprint of new construction.) But the odds on the NHL actually approving Bartoszek’s scheme are vanishingly small, even if he could figure out a way to pay for it. Right now, whatever interest the NHL has in Seattle, it’s only if Seattle gets a new arena; and with the only people in town interested in building a new arena unwilling to do so without an NBA team first, this could be a long wait.