At least, not right now. Maybe not ever, I dunno.
I don’t necessarily have my finger on the pulse of this situation, but I know this much: no group from the greater Seattle area (aka: please include Tukwila & Bellevue) submitted a bid for an expansion franchise by the deadline earlier this week. Part of it probably has to do with the $10 million fee that was involved (all but $2 million would be returned if you didn’t win a new franchise), but most of it probably has to do with the $500 million charge to BUY that God-foresaken franchise, which doesn’t even take into account all that needs to be done to build a proper arena.
It kinda feels like Seattle is fucked in this situation, and everyone is at fault. An owner can’t simply buy a new stadium with his own money, because the leagues (NHL & NBA) won’t allow that precedent to happen (because they’re money-hungry monsters who need to suckle at the public teet while giving back relatively little in the way of monetary compensation). The Seattle city government is at fault because they’re bumbling boobs and apparently the whole world knows about how much our local government sucks. The public at large is at fault because they allow these morons to stay in power; it’s a wonder how Seattle EVER managed to get professional sports franchises to come here!
This is what I think I know:
- The NBA isn’t expanding anytime soon (i.e. in the next decade, probably more)
- Seattle isn’t getting its SoDo arena without a tenant
- The NHL could be that tenant, but we would have to change the MOU
- The Seattle city government probably won’t change the MOU
- If they did, the hockey owners would have to pony up on some of the risk
- The hockey owners probably don’t want to pony up more risk
- If we don’t find a tenant soon, the MOU will expire and the whole process would have to start all over again
- Hockey could figure out a way to get an arena done in Tukwila or Bellevue
- For obvious reasons, having an NHL franchise in Tukwila or Bellevue is less ideal than in Seattle
- We probably won’t be getting the Sonics back if we can’t find a way for them to play in Seattle
- The best way to get the NBA back would be if the NHL was already here and the arena is already built
- But, again, see all the previous bullet points for why this is unlikely to happen
It would be great if we could just get everyone on the same page, but I guess that’s asking too much. It sounds like Seattle is lacking in that financial big whale (a la Steve Ballmer) who’s willing to be the backbone of an NHL franchise. Not shocking, since Seattle isn’t really a hockey town to begin with, so it’s not like we have this great history. Seattle has plenty of millionaires, but again, not hockey fans. So, if we’re to get a franchise, it’s going to be with out-of-town money. And, these guys don’t know the area, don’t have ties to the area, don’t know how things work politically. These guys just see a chance to own an NHL franchise and see a market with tons of growth potential. An IDEAL scenario would have all these prospective NHL buyers conglomerate under one ownership group, under one arena plan (preferably in SoDo), and do whatever it takes to get us a team.
With the NHL in place, we get the arena going. With the arena in place, maybe we can FINALLY hope for the NBA to get its shit together and give us what’s rightfully ours. Of course, the catch 22 in all this is that Seattle might be less enticing of a market with the NHL already entrenched here. I’d like to think 40 years of NBA history, combined with the ever-growing hotbed of prep talent would be enough to make Seattle viable, but I’m probably living in a dream world.
In a lot of ways, I’m addicted to sports and would have a tough time adjusting to life without them. But, on the flipside, they can also be the bane of my existence. Speaking of which, I’m going to be taking a break from writing about the Mariners on here. I just, like, can’t even right now.