Warming up to hockey
The rumor mill in Canada was busy before US Thanksgiving. There was a thought now that the owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets did some due diligence in how to go about getting a National Hockey League franchise that Calgary Flames ownership might want to sell and Houston could be a great place for the team. But there may soon be another city that could open to the NHL. Seattle. The Seattle City Council Special Committee on Civic Arenas approved the Oakview Group’s Memorandum of Understanding for a $600 million renovation of Seattle’s city owned arena. The council will meet on December 4th to say yes or no to the Oakview Group. It is expected that the council will approve the proposal and that could mean Seattle will have a hockey and basketball ready building by 2020. Oakview has more than a few friends in both the NHL and NBA ownership circle and Seattle has the kind of corporate market that both leagues want. There is also a good TV market.
The NHL has a number of financially challenged franchises including one in Glendale, Arizona, another in Raleigh, North Carolina and possibly Ottawa. In the case of both Ottawa and Calgary, team owners want new buildings. The New York Islanders franchise is looking to build an arena at the Belmont Park racetrack site and is waiting for a New York State agency to say yes or no to the proposal. Oakview is involved in the Belmont project along with New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon and Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan who are financial contributors to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo who is running for re-election in 2018. The interest in Houston and the possible Seattle arena renovation seem to have moved those two cities to the front of the NHL expansion relocation line leaving small market Quebec City behind.
Could the NHL join the Rockets in Houston?