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Tale of Two Leagues…and expansion

As both the NHL and NBA kicked off their respective championships series this week, it provided an opportunity to address expansion in the respective leagues.

Bill Daly

On Monday, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly made some press rounds. I snipped this quote from the Yahoo Puck Daddy blog.

“We kinda stopped holding on breath on new arenas in Seattle,” said Bill Daly, NHL deputy commissioner. “If something gets done and it’s a hockey-friendly building, does that make it more likely that at some point Seattle might be a likely site for expansion? Sure. But that’s in the future.”

As for Quebec, Daly said it’s a numbers game now for the NHL. There are 16 teams in the Eastern Conference. There are now 15 teams in the Western Conference. Expansion to Quebec would mean “further imbalance” for the League. “I think we have to address that before we can give more consideration to Quebec City,” he said.

Consistent with a lot of us in Seattle, the NHL appears to be in “I’ll believe it when I see it” mode. That said, they are practically keeping a seat open at the table for us. But how long can they keep it open? Seattle is by far the best open market for the league right now but how long before Portland or Kansas City make the league an offer they cannot refuse?

Adam Silver

Then on Thursday, NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver took to the podium and was asked about expansion.

“From my standpoint, for the league, you want ultimately a league where 30 teams are in a position where they can ultimately compete for championships and also be economically viable.”
“From an economic standpoint, we are doing better than we did historically, but we’re still not at a point where we have 30 teams that are profitable. … I also have to look at the potential for dilution of the existing talent we have before we expand. I have no doubt at some point we’ll turn back to it, but at least in my last discussions with our owners on this, most of them said let’s keep focusing on the health of these 30 teams and the quality of the competition. When we feel we’re in a better place with the 30 teams we have, maybe at that point we can look to expand.”

This is fairly consistent with what we have heard for the NBA for years but most of us figured we were getting closer. This is probably the most specific the NBA has been on the topic and the first time I’ve heard them talk about the disparity in the league. Earlier this week, Rob Johnson was on the Seattle Growth Podcast and said that he hopes NBA expands to Seattle in 6 to 10 years.

All of this is inline with what we have heard over the last several years that the NHL is more than likely to come to Seattle first with the biggest hurdle being an arena. But you knew that already….

John Barr
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