The 12 hosts of 710 ESPN Seattle have voted on the top Seattle sports stories of 2017. Each day we have counted down to the top story of the year with an article by a different host. Today, Mike Salk of Brock and Salk covers the No. 1 story, NHL’s formal interest in an expansion team in Seattle after an agreement was signed to renovate KeyArena.
There were a ton of big sports stories in Seattle this year, but none will have the lasting effect of the City agreeing to let the Oak View Group redevelop an arena at Seattle Center. That one move triggered an agreement on an expansion fee for an NHL franchise and will pave the way for the NHL to come to Seattle, and eventually for the NBA to return.
There is an old expression: “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good.” It fits well here. Seattle Center isn’t perfect. There are parking and transportation challenges. But it is the only path that the City and the leagues were willing to walk down, so I will support it 100 percent because it is the only chance to get the NHL and NBA here.
And I really love watching hockey. It’s great in person – so fast and you can just marvel at the athleticism they show on skates. It’s hard-hitting and comes with an incredible code of honor and respect among its players. Seattle embraced expansion soccer in the last decade and I think it will support expansion hockey to the same extent.
In my view, this is also the best chance to get the NBA back in town. Having an existing building is preferable to not having one. The league isn’t currently considering expansion nor does it have any teams looking to relocate, but when a team is available, Seattle will likely be at the top of the list.
It has been a long and arduous journey full of hopeful moments and soul-crushing ones as well. That journey is still far from finished – the environmental impact study is the biggest hurdle left. But the first week of December was a momentous step forward in the fight for hockey and basketball in Seattle.
A closer look at the NHL’s interest in Seattle