Recent progress toward an NHL team in Seattle is great news not just for hockey fans. It's a boon for the entire city and the region, which will benefit economically from a new professional sports team and a revamped downtown arena.
Go ahead and cheer, Puget Sound residents. And break out your cowbells.
After two momentous votes in recent days, the impending arrival of professional hockey in Seattle is all but assured.
This is a win not just for local fans of the National Hockey League but for the entire region, which will benefit economically from a new professional sports team and a revamped downtown arena.
The Seattle City Council did its part last week by voting to allow the Oak View Group to spend $700 million to redevelop KeyArena at Seattle Center. Then on Tuesday, the National Hockey League’s executive committee voted 9-0 to recommend adding an NHL franchise in Seattle.
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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, as well as leaders of the NHL Seattle group, deserve an enthusiastic stick salute for helping persuade the executive committee to back a Seattle team. While the league’s larger board of governors still has to take a final vote in early December, that 31-member board has never failed to approve an expansion recommended by the executive committee, reports the Times’ Geoff Baker.
League officials have identified the 2020-21 season as their preferred launch date.
Beyond the excitement of securing a new professional sports team in Seattle, there’s a lot to like about this deal — including that the city will gain an improved downtown venue that can be used for other events. The KeyArena renovation also opens the door to an NBA franchise one day returning to Seattle, a prospect longed for by many local basketball fans who still mourn the 2008 loss of the Seattle Sonics.
Durkan and other city officials must now focus on allowing construction at KeyArena to proceed quickly and without unnecessary hang-ups. By helping ensure OVG can finish work by the start of the 2020-21 season, city officials have an opportunity to show that Seattle can be a model of efficiency, rather than a poster child for bureaucratic delay.
The mayor and other leaders also should work to address traffic concerns, ensuring visitors can access the arena without becoming mired in gridlock.
In the meantime, residents of the greater Puget Sound — including the region’s many hockey lovers — have good reason to celebrate.