May 25, 2011

Putting An NHL Team In The Pacific Northwest Is Complicated

Drama-king Canucks headed to Stanley Cup Final

Well. Would you look at that. An actual NHL article written by a Seattle Times reporter. Usually, it's just AP stuff.

My friend Su, who works for the NBC affiliate in Seattle, was told yesterday that someone in the Sports department applied for media credentials for her. So, she should be attending the Stanley Cup Finals, if only in Vancouver. I can't imagine the NHL would turn down Seattle reporters when they'd love to put an NHL team in Seattle - and have wanted one there for at least 20 years now.

I actually got into a Twitter discussion about that a couple of days ago that was started by Stan Fischler, and ended up dragging in a New York Islanders blogger and a Montreal Canadiens writer (not sure if he was a blogger or a reporter). I feel like such a broken record whenever I talk about it, because no one seems to understand the situation out there - and frankly, I find that a little disturbing.

People see the location as it being a great idea, and don't bother doing any sort of research about it. Which is all well and good, I suppose. I don't expect everyone to be a geographer like me.

But, I get the sinking feeling that that's how the NHL's offices operate, too. That their own requirements are pretty sketchy when it comes to placing teams in cities. It appears to me that all they want is a willing owner and a building and that's it. So, if that's really the case, is it any wonder that teams have problems?

For once, it'd be nice if the NHL operated like any other successful business would - logically and methodically. I don't mind businesses working in the own best interests, up to a point, since that's what you have to do to be successful. But the NHL doesn't seem to do "methodical" at all, and that's upsetting since it just sets a lot of people up for failure.

So, one more time. Here are the problem with Seattle. And Portland, too, for that matter.

Seattle has no building, no one is interested in building a new one or renovating an old one, and the city doesn't seem to have anyone interested in owning and NHL team, anyways. Key Arena is so unsuitable that the local WHL team left it and built their own arena in a suburb. The reason that the NHL wants a team there has nothing to do with giving Vancouver a regional rival, but everything to do with money. Seattle would have a ton of corporate sponsorship right off the bat. And they'd be some of the biggest names in the world, too: Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Nintendo of America, and Boeing - just to name a few.

Portland has a building, but the anchor tenant (the Portland Trailblazers of the NBA) doesn't want the competition of another team. They were the lone major league sport in the city until a MLS team started up this year there (the Portland Timbers). Other than that, Portland has a AAA baseball team, a WHL team, and that's it. Paul Allen, who owns the Trailblazers and the Rose Garden, isn't currently interested in owning an NHL team. He was at one time, though; he was wanted to buy Hartford and move them to Seattle, but Key Arena's seating was screwed up (built around a basketball court instead of a rink), so he nowhere to put them.

Portland isn't as attractive to the NHL since they don't have the corporate names that Seattle does. Still, Nike, Columbia, and Adidas are nothing to sneeze at. It also has a smaller population than the Seattle area does by about a million people.

Got it? Good. I'd hate to have to explain it again, but I'll probably have to, anyways.

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