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NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke talks challenges on way to expansion team

Apr 20, 2018, 2:33 PM
Tod Leiweke (right) recently joined the NHL Seattle team as president and CEO. (AP)...
Tod Leiweke (right) recently joined the NHL Seattle team as president and CEO. (AP)
(AP)

NHL Seattle president and CEO Tod Leiweke has a lot on his plate for the next 2 ½ years.

Leiweke’s team is looking to have an expansion pro hockey team not only awarded to Seattle from the NHL in the near future, but on the ice and playing in the league in time for the 2020-21 season.

O’Neil: Seattle’s hockey future gets brighter with Tod Leiweke joining

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

“We’re gonna begin pulling the framework of a plan together,” Leiweke told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk on Friday. “When’s the right time to bring on a general manager? Building out a training facility. We’re gonna have a spectacular training facility and it will be somewhere in this community and it will do more than just host our practices.

“We need to pick a name. We need to pick our colors. We need to pick a logo. We’ve gotta make sure the arena gets built right and can not only host our games but a myriad of events and eventually becomes a brilliant home for the NBA.”

All that work is why Leiweke was brought on board. He has plenty of experience in these types of situations from his time as CEO of the Seahawks, Sounders and Tampa Bay Lightning, president of the Minnesota Wild and Portland Trail Blazers, and most recently the COO of the NFL.

The prospective Seattle NHL team would play in a new arena at Seattle Center under the same roof as the current KeyArena and former Seattle Coliseum in a project that is being headed by the Oak View Group, which includes Tod’s brother Tim Leiweke as CEO.

Tod Leiweke is optimistic about how well received hockey will be in the area, especially after the success of the NHL Seattle season ticket drive.

“This market is ready to fall in love with this game, and there are already people here who love this game, and the people who signed up (for the season ticket drive) love this game,” he said. “They wouldn’t have done it literally 2 ½ years out (if they didn’t love hockey). But there’s a lot of others we get to teach, and that’s a great privilege. It’s a fun game to teach.”

You can hear Leiweke’s full interview with Brock and Salk in this podcast of Friday’s show.

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