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Bettman says NHL not paying attention to Seattle until they start building arena

NFL quarterback Russell Wilson announced he’s joining the group that proposed a downtown Seattle arena, but the NHL wants to see more action and less talking before they start thinking about a team in the Pacific Northwest.

In one week, the identity of the newest NHL franchise will be known, as the Las Vegas team will introduce its name and logo to the public at an event outside the T-Mobile Arena. Fans should try to enjoy it, too, because it may be a while before there’s a similar event held elsewhere.

Despite speculation that the NHL has thought about or is considering a move that would put a team in Seattle, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday that, for the time being, there’s no intention on the league’s part to put a team in the Pacific Northwest. Bettman went a bit further, though, saying it’s not even something the league is “paying a lot of attention to,” pointing to the city’s continued arena talks as the main reason Seattle isn’t being considered.

"If they ever put a shovel in the ground and actually build a building instead of just talking about one, we might pay attention,” Bettman said, according to’s Dan Rosen. “But it's not something we're monitoring. We're not focusing on future expansion at this point and we're not focusing on Seattle over anywhere else.”

It sure does sound as though Seattle is nearing the point where the city is ready to stop talking and start building, though. That’s especially true given the recent, intriguing proposal from Chris Hansen’s Seattle arena group that would see the group privately fund the stadium in Seattle’s SoDo area, located south of downtown. 

The proposal from Hansen said the building would be constructed at “no cost to the City or the County,” in exchange for a part of Occidental Ave., located near the proposed arena site, be vacated and tax credits given to the arena, as the city has done in the past “for other sports venues.” In an era where publicly funded stadiums are the norm, the proposal is certainly worth a look.

And though it won’t have much — or any — impact on the decision made by the city, the proposal, or the group presenting the proposal, got all the more interesting Monday, hours after Bettman’s comments. Later in the day, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson announced he would be partnering with the arena group, though no financial details of his agreement are known.

Wilson announced he was joining the group via Twitter, saying he wanted to help bring the NBA and NHL to Seattle.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled that Russell is joining our partnership and continued efforts to bring the NBA and NHL back to Seattle," Hansen said in a statement, according to King 5’s Chris Daniels.

But even if the arena gets built, there’s no guarantee the NHL would be heading to Seattle. That said, comments from Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, made it sound as though the league hasn’t shut the door altogether on the possibility of adding a 32nd team down the line, though the expansion spotlight remains pointed squarely on Nevada.

"I certainly wouldn't rule out the possibility of further expansion at some point in the future, but it's certainly not on the radar screen today," Daly said, via Rosen. "Our primary focus on the expansion front is making sure Las Vegas gets in successfully and that everything we've put into place for them to enter the League progresses the way it was intended to progress.”

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