Bringing Tod Leiweke On Board Another Big Step For Seattle NHL Bid
Tod Leiweke has been formally introduced as President & CEO of the "prospective NHL expansion franchise seeking to call Seattle home" beginning with the '20-21 season, a move that had "been expected since Leiweke announced he was stepping down" from his role as NFL COO earlier this year, according to Tim Booth of the AP. Yesterday's announcement was "another step forward for the expansion bid." While announcing the president and CEO for a team that "doesn’t exist yet might seem a bit presumptuous, Leiweke brings the kind of clout that will only strengthen a bid that almost appears to be a foregone conclusion." Oak View Group is "expected to begin construction" on KeyArena later this fall and "have the remodel done" by '20. The season-ticket drive that started March 1 was a "rousing success and was capped at 33,000 deposits." Leiweke "got his start in hockey" with the Wild and has also worked with the Canucks. He most recently "helped build" the Lightning "into a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference." Leiweke "didn’t have any interest" in leaving the NFL league office "until the project in Seattle began to gain real traction." Leiweke’s hiring also "reunites him" with his brother, OVG CEO Tim Leiweke (AP, 4/11).
LET'S MAKE THIS HAPPEN: In Seattle, Geoff Baker notes after yesterday's introduction, Leiweke joined his brother Tim for a "business meeting at Amazon’s nearby headquarters." That likely will "fuel speculation of a future sponsorship or naming-rights deal for the online retail giant at a remodeled KeyArena." Potential team owner David Bonderman said that he "expects the NHL to conditionally grant the hockey franchise in June and sign off on it for good in September once the environmental review is completed" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/12). NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman "wasn't as optimistic" as Bonderman, and said that there is "no set timeline for a decision on Seattle's expansion bid." Speaking before the Golden Knights' playoff opener in Las Vegas last night, Bettman said, "We don't have a timetable. That would be nothing more than speculation. I would be surprised" (ESPN.com, 4/11).
PREP WORK BEGINS NOW: In Tacoma, John McGrath writes Tod Leiweke will "have his hands on every aspect of the fledgling organization." It is likely that Leiweke "already has compiled a short list of GM candidates." Leiweke will also "endorse a philosophy appealing to those sports fans needing a crash course in Hockey 101." Leiweke said, “I’m not here to make it kinda work. I’m here to make it work” (Tacoma NEWS TRIBUNE, 4/12). In Seattle, Matt Calkins writes Leiweke has had "too much success and wields too much influence to take this gig without assurance of a team." His résumé is "as extensive as it is exemplary." The prospect of a Seattle NHL team is "feeling more real every day" and the "excitement is booming." Leiweke has "won big more than once." There is no reason to think it "can’t happen again" (SEATTLE TIMES, 4/12).