On December 4th, 2018, the NHL voted unanimously to give Seattle the league’s 32nd franchise. In the fall of 2021, we will officially have professional hockey in this city.
Shovels are going into the ground soon (if they haven’t already), and the former Key Arena will be renovated over the next few years. The idea behind 2021 – as opposed to the 2020 that was floated out there previously – is to ensure we’re ready to host a game from the first day of the season. If we’d settled on 2020, there’s a very good chance delays in construction would’ve forced this team into a bad situation (where maybe they’d have to open on the road for the first month or more). When you think about all the pitfalls there would be had we tried to rush this thing, I mean, the options are staggering! I could envision lighting not working, the ice not being cold enough, consessions being fucked up, and on and on and on. This way, we know everything is going to be functioning and humming like a bird.
I don’t have a lot to add that I haven’t already said before. This is obviously tremendous news. Seattle NEEDS a winter sport that’s more than just Husky Basketball. No, it’s not the Supersonics – and believe me, they’d be my #1 preferred option by a longshot – but it gets our foot in the door. It gets this arena project started FINALLY, and when it’s completed, we’ll be able to sit here and point to the NBA, “Look! We did it! Now give us our team back!”
Whether the NBA will listen or not is another matter, but that’s not really the point.
Plus, I like hockey. It’s not my favorite sport; I’m not a superfan or anything. My brother is more of a hockey fan than I’ll probably ever be, and I’ve watched games with him on TV every so often. Without a dog in the fight, it just hasn’t captured me. I’m similar with baseball; I would never watch the sport if I didn’t have a team in Seattle. Frankly, I’m the same with basketball (though I wasn’t always; I used to LOVE watching non-Sonics games until they stole our team from us). I’m excited to get into it. I want to jump in on the ground floor with whatever this team is going to be called. I want to write about it regularly and learn all the intricacies of the sport through the eyes of an expansion franchise. As if I didn’t obsess about sports enough, here’s a whole new one!
And here’s the other thing. Yeah, it’s at Seattle Center, and not at the SoDo spot – which is unquestionably a better location for a new arena – but at this point what do I care? I don’t live in South Lake Union anymore, so I don’t have to deal with the nonsense of extra traffic and parking hassles. I can WALK there from my office anytime I want! You could put this thing in the Space Needle for all I care, as long as it gets built and I get to have some real, actual hope for the NBA returning someday.