Seattle Mayor Murray's Resignation Could Create New Dynamic In KeyArena Renovation
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray yesterday resigned following another child sex-abuse allegation, creating an "entirely new, unexpected dynamic in what seemed was finally an unencumbered path toward construction of a revamped KeyArena," according to Larry Stone of the SEATTLE TIMES. Most likely, yesterday's announcement that Oak View Group would spend $600M on renovating KeyArena still "will be the outcome." The "weight of momentum and the heft of city politics still seem aligned squarely behind" OVG and CEO Tim Leiweke. But if people were "wondering what a successful Hail Mary scenario for Chris Hansen’s rival arena group could look like, well, this is it." Hansen’s plan last week to "finance his own more modest renovation" of KeyArena was "summarily dismissed by the Seattle Office of Economic Development." But now there "might be a sliver of hope." Namely, that the "chaos at City Hall throws enough turmoil into the local political scene that the arena project is thrown off the fast track that Murray had it on, with an eye toward getting it all resolved before the next mayor took office." Murray’s goal was for a city-council vote "perhaps as soon as Dec. 4." But now council President Bruce Harrell has been "elevated to mayor -- at least for five days," at which time he "must decide if he wants to stay on until the November election." Stone notes the mayor’s role in the arena process had "effectively ended anyway with the MOU agreement." There had been "strong indications that the council is lined up to approve the MOU." But "turmoil at City Hall is Hansen’s friend." If the MOU vote is somehow "delayed while the political fallout of Murray’s departure is sorted out, it could buy him time to forge a true game-changer" (SEATTLE TIMES, 9/13).
STARS ALIGNING: THE HOCKEY NEWS' Ken Campbell noted with OVG set to spend $600M to renovate KeyArena, the door "appears open for the NHL to welcome aboard another expansion franchise." The decision is a "no-brainer" for the NHL. It is only a "matter of time before the NHL anoints Seattle as an expansion team and begins the era of the Original 32." It finally looks as though Seattle will have a "place worthy of hosting NHL games." That is an "enormous turnaround from two years ago when the NHL last opened its expansion process and the market wasn’t even organized enough to put a bid together." Things have "changed drastically in Seattle since then, to the point where the market checks off almost every box the NHL requires of a new member." Nothing is "more attractive than expansion money." The $500M demanded of the Golden Knights is "going to look like a bargain." There is word that the league will ask $650M to "join the club this time." And this, as much as anything, could have an "enormous impact on the landscape of the NHL over the next couple of years" (THEHOCKEYNEWS.com, 9/12).
WHAT ABOOT US? The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts asks, "What does this mean for Quebec City?" The short answer is "not a lot." It still means Quebec City and its supporters "have to be patient and wait for another team to relocate." Seattle was "always right there with Las Vegas among the NHL governors when it came to the favourite cities for expansion." The only thing "preventing an announcement was an arena deal." By adding Seattle, the NHL will "achieve its long-term goal of balance between the Western and Eastern Conferences with 16 teams in each conference." While adding a team for $600M in Quebec City "would be tempting for the owners, it would put the conferences out of balance again" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/13).