If the NHL is ever heading to Seattle, it doesn’t appear it will happen anytime soon.
The Seattle Times reported Monday that Seattle City Council voted 5-4 against the sale and closure of a portion of a downtown street, Occidental Avenue South, that would have acted as part of the site for a proposed downtown arena. The vote against the street closure could very well be the final nail in the coffin of the half-billion dollar arena that entrepreneur Chris Hansen had proposed to be built in the SoDo area of Seattle.
Designs for the arena were supported by Seattle’s Downtown Design Review Board and the Sustainability and Transportation Committee had voted in favor of giving up a portion of the roadway, but council’s vote makes it unlikely Hansen will get the go-ahead to build his proposed arena. The building would have been the site of an arena that would potentially play home to the NBA’s SuperSonics, as well as opening up the option for the NHL as a second tenant in the building.
“Today’s City Council vote was disappointing but we don’t believe it is the end of the road in our quest to bring the NBA and NHL back to Seattle,” Hansen wrote on SonicsArena.com. “We know all the fans who have stood solidly by us these past years share our disappointment but it is important that we all stay focused on our shared goal.
“We now need to take a little time to step back and evaluate our options, better understand the council’s concerns and find a path forward. We will keep you posted.”
However, while Hansen won’t be getting his arena, there is another option that was outlined by Seattle City Council-member Sally Bagshaw. According to the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker, Bagshaw suggested the city consider again renovations to KeyArena, which opened in 1962 and formerly played host to the SuperSonics and WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. Baker cited a report from AECOM in 2015 stated the renovations to get KeyArena up to modern standards would cost roughly $285 million.
The arena deal has been the biggest hurdle Seattle has faced in terms of landing an NHL franchise, and it was likely a big part of the reason neither Seattle or nearby Tukwila submitted a proposal for expansion when the league opened the door for submissions. There was a belief that Seattle would be in on the process, but the only applications for expansion came from Quebec City and Las Vegas.