When news broke last week that the Seattle City Council supported a deal to build a $490 million arena in Seattle south of Safeco Field, the focus was on the potential return of the NBA and the lost Sonics. Chris Hansen, the main investor in Seattle's new arena, is a lifelong Sonics fan and the deal hinges on his ability to lure an NBA franchise to the city.
But Seattle city councilperson Mike O'Brien noticed something recently as the arena deal was being finalized -- a greater number of people than he expected are more excited about the prospect of an NHL team than an NBA team.
"I'm surprised to learn how many people in Seattle, when I've talked to them over the last few months, say 'I couldn't care less about the NBA, it would be great to get an NHL team in here,'" O'Brien said this week over the phone. "Seattle is growing and a lot of people from the Midwest and Northeast grew up playing hockey in school and on frozen lakes."
Seattle is a city that has long intrigued the NHL as a possible franchise destination. It's a top 15 U.S. television market. There's a built-in rivalry just waiting to be created with the Vancouver Canucks. There's even hockey history there; in 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans beat Montreal to win the Stanley Cup.
"In a city like Seattle, we don't have many titles. We cherish them all," O'Brien joked.
The problem in securing an NHL franchise was the city's lack of an adequate arena. There was nowhere to put an NHL team.
Hansen is close to solving that problem.
To read more about Seattle's plan to get an NHL franchise and why it may come from expansion rather than relocation, become an ESPN Insider today.