A New Arena And The NHL Are On The Way

There’s been a lot of news in this area lately.  For starters, the MOU for the SoDo Arena has expired.  What a shame.  We had so much hope for that arena, that location, and the impending move of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle, and piece by piece that dream was destroyed.

There were ultimately a lot of forces at play preventing the SoDo Arena from ever coming to fruition, but if I’m being honest, as much as I want to rail against the NBA, the shady Sacramento city government, the do-nothing Seattle City Council, the Port, the Mariners, and everyone else who fought tooth and nail to torpedo Chris Hansen’s plan, I would argue that just as much blame falls on Chris Hansen’s shoulders.

Not because he wasn’t a better politician, not because he donated money against the Sacramento arena plan (drawing the NBA’s ire), and not because he couldn’t attract enough local money (particularly when Steve Ballmer dropped out to buy the Clippers).  I blame Chris Hansen because, as crazy as this sounds, he never went far enough.  He never went above and beyond.  He kept trying to pinch pennies when – if he really wanted to get the job done – he should’ve over-paid.

I sound like an asshole for saying that, and I get it:  Chris Hansen is a saint.  He tried to almost single-handedly bring the NBA back to Seattle!  Not because he could make a buck on it, but out of the goodness of his heart.  He was not only going to pay for the arena himself, but he was going to plow a bunch of millions of dollars into improving the city around him, with the Lander overpass and the money earmarked to improving Seattle Center.  Hell, he even cobbled together a last-ditch plan to renovate Key Arena while at the same time building his SoDo Arena!

But, that’s just it.  It seems like it was ALL last ditch efforts.  His initial plan wasn’t to make the SoDo Arena 100% privately funded; that only came about when he was met with push-back and the probability of the city going in another direction with the Oak View Group.  Initially, Hansen was asking for tax breaks or whatever.  Then, when the Kings were up for auction, he put up his bid – which was ultimately met by the bid of the current owners – and the NBA sided with the group looking to keep the team in Sacramento.  It wasn’t until after the NBA made its decision did Hansen opt to tack on an extra $100 or $150 million.  Had he gone above and beyond from his opening bid – essentially making the Maloof brothers an offer they couldn’t refuse, and that couldn’t be met by any other gaggle of billionaires – we would have the Sonics back in Seattle right now.

Ultimately, Chris Hansen was willing to do the most and pay the most; he would always have the final word that went above and beyond what anyone else was willing to offer.  But, it was always too late.  It was always after agreements had been made by other parties.  Had he come correct, from the get-go, things would be very different right now.

It might be smart business – don’t start out with your final offer, have some bullets left in the chamber that you can offer to sweeten the deal – but that’s assuming you’re dealing with other businessmen, and not politicians.  If you’re dealing with businessmen, then yeah, of course they’ll accept the very best deal.  Why wouldn’t they?  With politicians, they’ve got other interests they have to take into consideration.  It’s not right; it’s not necessarily the way I would prefer the world works, but that’s life.

So, instead of having the NBA back and a sweet arena right next door to Safeco Field, we’re getting a renovated Seattle Center arena and the NHL.

If I had my druthers, I’d have the Sodo Arena over the Seattle Center arena, but I feel less strongly about it than I once did.  Most of that has to do with the fact that I no longer live in South Lake Union, only a mile from Key Arena.  So, you know, I don’t have to deal with the bullshit traffic anymore.  And, if I’m being honest, it’s not like I’m going to attend all that many games in person.  I go to less than 10 Mariners games a year, and most of the time those are just excuses to socialize with my friends.  If you go to a sporting event in an arena, you’re pretty much there just to watch the game.  If you’re at Safeco, you can wander around, hang out in the beer garden, chit chat with your friends at your seats; it’s much more casual.  If I go to a hockey game at Seattle Center, I’ll probably just walk from my work on a Friday, or catch a bus or a Lyft or something.  I CERTAINLY won’t drive, or look to park there, because that would be insane.

Parking and traffic aside, whatever man, I don’t care.  Just build the fucking thing and get me a fucking professional winter sport.

As such, a new MOU was signed this month.  And, the NHL has already set in motion a process that should one day put a team in Seattle.

October 2020 is the estimated completion date.  But, considering they have to dig down to open the thing up – because the stupid roof is a historical landmark for some reason – I highly doubt this thing is going to finish on time.  Nevertheless, here we go!  The next few years should be fun!

Assuming, of course, the whole thing doesn’t get derailed by lawsuits, or the politicians getting cold feet.  Have I told you how much I hate this city?  Seattle sucks SO HARD.

I will say this, though:  I’m looking forward to professional hockey.  I’m not the biggest hockey fan in the world right now, but my brother is, and I’ve socked back a few beers and watched some games with him on TV, so I kinda sorta get the gist.  Assuming everything works out, and Seattle gets a team, you better believe I’m getting in on the ground floor!  I plan on familiarizing myself with the ins and outs and whathaveyous:  the rules, the history of the game, all of it.  I am BUYING in, big time!  And not just because I need more sports to write about on my blog between the end of football season and the start of baseball season.

I like hockey!  I don’t love it; as I said, I’m not a super fan or anything.  But, I feel like that’s because I’ve never had a team.  The closest team to me is in Vancouver BC, but that might as well be in Timbuktu.  When the shit do I ever go to Canada?  I’m pretty sure the last two times I’ve been to Vancouver, it was for Pearl Jam concerts.  It’s a pain in the ass just getting to Seattle, or Lynnwood, or God-foresaken Mill Creek; the rest of that stretch, up through Bellingham and on into Canada is the slog of all slogs.

And considering it’s not like the Canucks are featured on local television, I’d have to wait to see them on Hockey Night In Canada.

With a team in Seattle, with the games on Root Sports or whatever, being able to watch them on a regular basis, I feel like I could really get into the sport.  And, if they ever get good enough, who knows?  Maybe I’ll like them just as much as I did the Sonics!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still hoping we get the NBA back someday, but hockey is more than a good-enough substitute.

Leave a Reply