A while back, The Hockey Fanatic listed Seattle as the #4 city in North America that deserved an NHL franchise. However we did find it interesting that Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz was in Seattle yesterday meeting with officials who are building a new arena in the Seattle area. An arena that locals believe will return the NBA to Seattle after the city lost the Supersonics in 2008. A secondary tenant may in fact be an NHL franchise. Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz was in Seattle apparently scoping out a potential NHL market Monday with the Edmonton Oilers leadership group.
This is not the first time that Daryl Katz has looked at other suitors. A few months back Katz and his team were in Quebec City meeting with officials in that province about proposed arena developments and such. The fact that Seattle was Katz’s second trip to a city seeking an NHL franchise is concerning and although Wayne Gretzky was quoted as saying the chances of the Oilers leaving Edmonton are slim to none, Katz is a businessman who acquired the Oilers for $200+ million a few years back and has sunk a bunch of money into a team that has been cellar dwellers for a number of years since the 2004/05 NHL lockout.
It’s no secret that Katz is looking for public money to help fund a new arena in Edmonton. The city and Katz’s group are becoming increasingly frustrated as a deal cannot be finalized. Edmonton’s proposed $450-million downtown arena is on shaky ground after city council denied a Katz Group request for more public funding a couple of weeks ago. Katz Group officials issued a statement of their own in response to council’s motion.
“We share city council’s desire to develop a world-class arena for $450 million, but two years of design and engineering work tell us it simply cannot be done without sacrificing the public’s demands for an iconic arena that is well-integrated with surrounding neighbourhoods, or in a way that makes economic sense for both parties…”
The Seattle Oilers? Wait Just a Minute
The Seattle Oilers are not the team that should move to the mid-northwest. The Seattle Coyotes maybe, the Oilers no way. Not with the history that they Oilers have. All of the great players, the dynasty years, the five Stanley Cups, the youth movement that is getting poised to be a definite Stanley Cup contender within the next few years. Furthermore the Oilers have been one of the most successful financial teams in the past decade even with a sub-par teams as Oilers’ games continue to be sold out. Edmonton is a strong hockey market. Seattle is an unproven one.
5 Reasons the Oilers Will Not Move to Seattle
- There are other NHL franchise that will move before the Oilers will. Think Phoexix Coyotes, Nashville Predators or even Florida Panthers or New Jersey Devils.
- The NHL need the battle of Alberta – quite honestly the Flames do not have what it takes to represent Alberta as their National Hockey League team. The epic battle of Alberta is one of the greatest rivalries in all of professional sports.
- The NHL will not move a financial sound franchise…at least not yet.
- The NHL needs more teams north of the border not south of the border. The hockey experiment in the US sunbelt has not worked as well as Gary Bettman and his posse would like us to believe. Too many team in non-hockey markets is just not good for business.
- The fans of the Edmonton Oilers will not allow the team to move – the league may ask Katz to sell the team locally before moving it to another city. Local investors stepped up once before, they might do it again. Whether the NHL will allow it is another story.
A scare tactic by Daryl Katz? Maybe but the city of Edmonton, the province of Alberta and the Katz Group really need to get this deal finalized. The lease at the Oilers’ current home, Rexall Place, expires in 2014. All this while Seattle’s city council has recently backed a $490-million NBA/NHL arena deal with $200 million in public funding.