As the NHL comes out of summer hibernation it would be a good time to lay out the critical 5 weeks ahead on the NHL to Seattle front. There are two major tracks to monitor: 1) the arena and 2) NHL franchise approval.
OVG and the City of the Seattle have been going through all the details of the entitlement process of the Seattle Center Arena since the Memorandum of Understanding was approved and signed last December. This process includes the approval of the Final Environmental Impact Statement and transaction documents by the Seattle City Council. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) was published last Thursday and by all intents and purposes, the transaction documents appear to be on track for a September 14th committee vote that will trigger a full City Council vote on either September 17th or the 24th.
The most critical item to look out for is an appeal of the FEIS. Appeals will need to be submitted within 14 days and any appeal, whether frivolous or not, will cause a delay in the process that would likely make the entire project slip. The City and OVG added mitigations to the FEIS that were based on responses from the Draft EIS. An appeal would be unfortunate, as it will put the possibility of an NHL franchise starting in 2020 in jeopardy.
NHL Franchise Approval
The last we heard from the NHL regarding Seattle was “a lot of due diligence that has to be done.” This phase of the process appears to be coming to a close. Initially reported in the Seattle Times, Tod Leiweke, Jerry Bruckheimer, and David Bonderman will be presenting to the NHL Board of Governors Executive Committee the first week of October. If that goes well, then they will go before the full NHL Board of Governors. No dates and context of the full Board of Governors has been shared, but I would conservatively set the date in December with a possibility of it being pulled earlier. The context of the meeting NHL Seattle would have with the BOG is difficult to speculate; i.e. whether it will be a presentation, meeting, vote, etc.
There have been no specifics on what the NHL Seattle group will be presenting to the NHL, but one thing I am sure they are looking for is assurances that the arena can and will be built. If there is a complication with the arena process or if there is an appeal of the FEIS, a full approval of a franchise may not be given until those issues are resolved.
Practice Facility and Local Ownership group
Not critical path, but Tod Leiweke has been teasing us all summer about a 3-sheet practice facility and adding a local ownership group. Based on some comments on the most recent ‘Tuesdays with Tod’ segment on KJR, it sounds like they are close to making those announcements. As a member of the hockey playing community, I am ecstatic about the thought of adding more ice that will grow the sport and provide more opportunities for current players to play hockey.
UPDATE: NHL Seattle will be making an announcement about local ownership on Wednesday the 5th of September at 11AM local time. They will be streaming the announcement via facebook.
Tune in to Facebook Live TOMORROW at 11:00 AM PDT for announcements regarding ownership group and Seattle Center Arena. #NHLSeattle
— NHL Seattle (@NHLSeattle_) September 4, 2018
Review of the timeline:
8/30: Final Environmental Impact Study on Seattle Center Arena published
8/30-9/13: FEIS potential appeal window
9/14: City of Seattle Committee meeting on Arena at Seattle Center transaction documents
9/17 or 9/24: City Council vote on Arena at Seattle Center transaction documents
10/2: NHL Seattle presentation to Board of Governors Executive Committee.
For more information check out these links:
‘Tuesdays with Tod’ on the Dave Softy Mahler Show (KJR 8/28)
City of Seattle reaches important benchmark in KeyArena renovation process (KOMO 8/30)
Tod Leiweke offers updates on Seattle NHL expansion process (Sportsnet 8/29)