Thiel: After a century, top-shelf hockey returns - Sportspress Northwest

Workers place temporary signage "under construction" on KeyArena./ Matt M. McKnight, Crosscut

Someone in charge of explaining the history of the construction of the Seattle Arena to NHL officials recently said that, to make the deadline of an opening by October 2020, all issues relating to construction, justice and politics they should go to perfection.

"The NHL has said, 'Perfection? & # 39;" According to a project member, summing up the exchange. "No. Let's make it 2021."

So the developers of Oak View Group based in Los Angeles, who are investing $ 800 million – the last figure confirmed Tuesday, compared to the initial $ 650 million – to do away with KeyArena, after consulting their political partners in the government of the city, have come to the conclusion:

After waiting over 100 years for another attempt to repeat the Seattle Metropolitans Stanley Cup victory in 1917, what's another year?

Because even NHL owners know, based on the experience of their NBA brothers, when it comes to Seattle's professional sports and public works, to expect perfection to be impossible. Better to plan a chaos, then dig.

The calendar was reached until October 2021. The team's owners, gathered at a Sea Island resort, Ga., Voted 31-0 Tuesday to make Seattle their 32nd franchise, an important event in a sordid civic saga.

The market was the largest in North America without the NHL or the NBA. All it took to settle was $ 1.45 billion – the cost of the arena, plus the expansion franchise fee of $ 650 million, of which $ 100 million paid Tuesday – and a willing city government to say yes to free private money to repair a public building in a public park.

In a word, it is surprising.

The franchise's official franchise Tuesday focuses largely on a century of reproach, fiction, duplicity, lies, condemnation, factual and fictional mistakes, temporary achievements and abject failures concerning the Major League hockey – and the Major League of basketball – and Seattle.

A construction plan, a league, a team and the property is all set to turn on the hockey lamps. NHL CEO Hockey Partners Tod Leiweke, the former head of Seahawks (2002-10), has returned to the city for exactly this moment.

"Today is a dream come true for an entire city," Leiweke said after Commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement in the resort's ballroom. "I'm holding back a lot of emotions, but today I think of the fans, I woke up today thinking about the fans and what they felt on March 1st when they deposited the deposits without knowing anything."

More than 10,000 online deposits arrived during the first 12 minutes, 32,000 in 12 hours. They knew nothing, but apparently were impatient to learn.

Also on a learning curve he was CEO of Oak View Group, Tim Leiweke, brother of Tod. He learned that appeasing all the interested parties of the Seattle Center and the surrounding urban village, already flooded by the newcomers and the Seattle construction jobs, would be difficult and expensive.

Leiweke has long lived in professional sports and in the arena, she had never been to the Seattle process.

"The most complicated project I've been involved with," he said recently. As a result, it is already out of budget and no longer in time and the demolition has not even started. The roof of the reference arena must be held in place, the floor of the arena must be 15 feet lower to accommodate an expanded footprint, the city's work contracts must be honored and the steel price soared due to the tariffs.

On its own, OVG has added a $ 70 million training center for the Northgate shopping center, which must be ready in the summer before the start of training.

The OVG planners have started talking about needing more time, perhaps suggesting that the team would play its first month entirely on the road. That was when the NHL intervened.

"It was clear that this team wants to start in the best way ever," said Bettman. "And the certainty about the timing of the construction – or the lack of certainty – led us to believe that the start of the 20-21 season would be speculative at best and unlikely at worst. agreement on the fact that it is better to make the building work well. "

According to a hockey source, the date of the opening was less important than the statement of the final existence of the 32nd team. Contracts with players need to be done with an expansion project in mind, so the uncertainty about the Seattle construction readiness in 2020 – including the potential for a myriad of problems at a site that the builder does not have – has caused a pumping of the brakes.

A potential benefit of the delay is to avoid a potential job stalemate with the players' union that could throw a bullet at the start of 2020. The current collective agreement expires after the 2021-22 season, but the NHL can decide to go out next September 1st. The union can thus 18 days later.

The belief at the moment is that the arena will be ready for the opening for concerts and the WNBA storm in the spring of 2021, starting the revenue stream that has to pay the construction debt for the duration of 39 years of the contract lease.

Music fans did not seem to be around Tuesday to cheer up the word.

Nearly 200 people, many in the hockey signs, snuck into Henry's Tavern in South Lake Union to see the NHL press conference live, which confirmed what had been known since the start generosity of the March ticket store.

One of the most exuberant fans was Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, a great sports fan.

"No city has ever gotten a deal like this," he said. "The amount (OVG) is paying for the arena, and the expansion fee – are invested in Seattle.

"I grew up here and I lost two teams, the pilots and the sonic.We will have the hockey for my children and their children."

The tradition of municipal extortion by professional sports teams is long, aggravating and persistent. But with $ 1.45 billion from individuals, maybe the dollar stops here.

Team owners Jerry Bruckheimer, left, and David Bonderman, joined Tod Leiweke on Tuesday at the NHL owners' meeting, where they were awarded an expansion franchise. / Art Thiel, Northwest Sportspress file

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