Even as Seattle City Council members were preparing yesterday to approve a new $490 million arena in Sodo, the Internets were buzzing with news that the owners of the NHL's Edmonton Oilers were touring KeyArena in consideration of a possible move.
Yeah... don't get your hopes up, local hockey fans.
The Oilers have two years remaining on their current lease, and have been deep in negotiations with Edmonton officials on a new arena deal that would keep the team in the city (and in the black) in one of the league's smallest markets. No doubt the team's owners are happy to use Seattle as leverage, but it's hard to imagine this visit is about anything more than that. The NHL is committed to keeping teams in Canada, and Edmonton officials would be committing political suicide if they allowed their hockey-crazy town to lose its beloved franchise.
Personally, I'm much more of a hockey fan than I am a basketball fan, but I don't expect Seattle to acquire an NHL franchise anytime soon. And neither does Chris Hansen. When we spoke a couple weeks ago, Hansen wouldn't comment on how far along he was in finding an interested NHL ownership group, but he did point out that KeyArena doesn't really work well for hockey, even as a temporary home. The best situation for an NHL team, Hansen emphasized, would be to come in after the new Sodo arena opened. And that would be three years from now, at the soonest.