NHL Exec talks up Seattle & a bit of Seattle Arena news

For October, this was a big news day. Two unrelated bits of news about the NHL coming to Seattle today. 1) MLSE executive Tim Leiweke mentioned Quebec City and Seattle are frontrunners for expansion 2) SeattleArena dates moved out with final EIS estimated for March.

Let’s dig into the Leiweke’s comments by way of David Sholts from the Globe and Mail

Leiweke later stressed that these opinions were his own and not necessarily the leagues. On the surface, this is great news. Leiweke is a long term successful exec inside the NHL and great to hear him talk up Seattle in any capacity. Leiweke is the President ad CEO of Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment and was AEG CEO during the Kings Stanley Cup run. He is as influential as it gets. Even though he isn’t really saying much more than what the blogosphere likes to report, it may be the first time I’ve heard an NHL executive mention Seattle or Expansion.

A hidden connection in Tim Leiweke’s comments is that his brother Tod Leiweke is the CEO of the Tampa Bay lightning. More importantly, Tod is the former CEO of the Seattle Seahawks and Sounders so I am sure he can speak for the viability of the market in Seattle. Tod also played hockey in the Greater Seattle Hockey League and probably knows the hockey community better than any NHL exec.

Second bit of news was an article posted by Chris Daniels stating the Arena project has slowed “way” down. I went back and forth with Daniels on this questioning the terminology he used when saying “slowed way down”. Long story short, it sounds more like the sense of urgency is as high as it has been . The EIS completion was targeted for January has now been pushed to March with a final resolution expected in late summer. It is a little tough for me to interpret this bit of news as final resolution in March timeframe could have set up well for the NHL Board of Governors meeting. I would like to think that the league could expand as early as 2014 but realistically 2015 is probably a safer bet and that certainly is no guarantee. At least for the NHL, it seems like this should not impact the timeline that much. Thoughts?

John Barr
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