Seattle hockey fans hoping for their own pro team

by: Chris Legeros Updated:

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SEATTLE —

Six thousand hockey fans showed up Saturday night to watch a major junior team, the Seattle Thunderbirds, battle Portland. 

Ken Buzelle said, “There’s a lot more action than baseball.” 

Tina Kramer said, “We don’t miss any of the games.” 

Both fans would love to see a National Hockey League team in Seattle, and there are indications that dream could become a reality. 

The NHL’s Deputy Commissioner recently called Seattle a good hockey market. The Seattle Sports Commission visited Vancouver, B.C., to explore the success of the Canucks. 

The Seattle Times reported the league has talked with potential ownership groups about the costs of getting an expansion team.

The newspaper even named three candidates: New York investor Ray Bartoszek, Chicago businessman Don Levin, and a group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer.  Hansen and Ballmer are the same guys trying to bring pro basketball to Seattle.
Hockey fan Cameron Thrall said, “I think that’s fantastic and the more the merrier.  I think the more (investors) who are involved in it, the more likelihood we’re going to have a professional team.” 

The Hansen group already has plans to build an arena in Seattle’s Sodo neighborhood that could host basketball and hockey teams, but it's not a done deal.  Results of a final environmental impact study won't be released until next month. 

Then there’s the issue of a Memorandum of Understanding between Seattle, King County and the Hansen group. 

It clearly states that before there's any public financing of the arena, a National Basketball Association team franchise has to be bought.

The NBA has to approve any existing franchise’s move to Seattle and acknowledge the arena lease.  That memorandum would have to be rewritten if Hansen's group, or any other group, is interested in bringing pro hockey to the city before basketball.