As Seattle awaits word on whether or not the Sacramento Kings will become the new Seattle Sonics, there's another sport that many Seattleites are hoping to have nearby sooner than later...professional hockey. The chances of that improved last week when a deal to keep the Phoenix Coyotes in Glendale fell apart, opening the doors for the franchise to relocate. Seattle is at or near the top of the list for relocation but while future plans for an arena make it attractive, current facility possibilities might ruin the city's chances for landing the Coyotes.
Construction on the SoDo arena is tied to the purchase of an NBA franchise even though it's also being built to be NHL-ready. It's going to take at least two years from the day those plans go into work before the arena is open. However, the Coyotes might be looking for a new home as quickly as this October. Can Seattle be ready for that?
It's well-documented that Key Arena is not built for NHL games. While it has hosted hockey games in the past (the WHL Thunderbirds previously called it home), the dimensions don't leave a lot of room for seats, create awkward scoreboard placements and capacity of 10-11K unobstructed seats would be on the low end for the NHL.
The only other feasible option while the SoDo Arena is being built? The Tacoma Dome. Formerly the home of the WHL's Tacoma Rockets and WCHL's Tacoma Sabercats, it too faces a lot of issues since it was not constructed for hockey. Plus, Chris Hansen and Seattle might not want to see all that revenue go to Tacoma for 2-3 years.
Probably the biggest threat to Seattle's NHL chances actually come all the way from Quebec City. The former home of the Nordiques offers a ready-to-go hockey arena (15,176-seat Colisee Pepsi), ready-to-go broadcasting rights, a chance to be the market's No. 1 franchise and, of course, a rabid hockey fanbase hungry for a new team.
Like with the Kings, a lot of things have to happen before the Coyotes' situation results in a Seattle franchise. In the meantime, fans should put all their efforts behind clearing the path for the SoDo arena. The sooner it's built, the more likely the odds of Seattle getting an NBA and NHL team.
· NHL's Phoenix Coyotes might be moving, but Seattle probably isn't first in line for the team [Seattle Times]
· Vulcan Clarifies Block 59 Proposal, What's Up With The Kings Purchase? [Curbed Seattle]
· All SoDo Arena Coverage [Curbed Seattle]