SoDo Arena current state of an NHL first scenario: A little refresher

It is commonly known that the NHL must have assurances of a new Arena in Seattle before awarding the city an NHL franchise. The blocking issue is not as simple as rewriting the current MOU to enable an NHL-first scenario.

For those that don’t know, the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Seattle and King County requires an NBA franchise before construction can begin on the SoDo site. As much as we would like to do a “find & replace” on NBA, it isn’t remotely that simple. First off, Chris Hansen, who signed the MOU with the City & County owns $60Million worth of land on the site wants an NBA team and an NHL ownership group as a partner. The prospective NHL Ownership Group will need to work with Chris Hansen on the nature of their partnership while Hansen still needs to protect his interest/investment should the NBA never come back to Seattle. Of course, Hansen will need to know who the NHL will be selecting before he signs anything binding. If the City & County is going to change the MOU to an NHL first scenario, they must also perform some due diligence on prospective NHL owner (assuming they will be named on the MOU). Oh and we are still waiting for the Final Environmental Impact Study to be completed. So yes…this is complex. There is no one to blame here and based on the one time we have heard from Victor Coleman, he has a “clear path” to getting resolution.

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Sin City and the NHL

As you may have seen, Michael Russo wrote an excellent article about the prospects of putting an NHL team in Vegas. The difference between this report and earlier 2012+NHL+Entry+Draft+Rounds+2+7+lyfx4JlSpv9lrumors circulating on Vegas are the quotes and confirmation from the NHL’s own Bill Daly.

When the reports started surfacing of Vegas being the location of an NHL team, I certainly had my doubts. Small city, lack of local support, lower income etc.Vegas doesn’t rank in the top 40 for TV markets and is ranked 34th in Average Income of US Cities with more than a million people.

However, Las Vegas is like no other market in the NHL and predicting the success based exclusively on conventional metrics is not realistic.Ad dollars will be huge and entertainment revenues are exceeding gaming revenue for several major hotel properties. Yes, the NHL is more dependent on Gate Revenue than any other professional sports league but does that mean it must be so for all franchises? Could being the only Pro Sports team in city be the ticket to success? I don’t know the answers. By the sounds of Daly’s quotes in the article it doesn’t sound like he is convinced either and that will be part of the due diligence. Airing it out so publicly could be a way to see how much local interest is out there.

The more important takeaways from the article is that Daly and the NHL are at least acknowledging expansion and imply that expansion will need to happen in the west. This could be off the cuff remarks or could even be negotiating tactics to extract more expansion $ out of some eastern Canadian city that is well positioned with an arena.

This certainly will not be the last we hear about Vegas and the optimist would say Vegas needs a dancing partner. My advice, don’t get let this news get you too high or too low, it’s going to be a long and bumpy road.

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