If you need any more assurance that the awarding of a National Hockey League franchise to Seattle is going to happen, we give you this nugget: NHL Seattle, the organization working to bring an NHL team to the city, announced today it plans to break ground on a new three-rink NHL Seattle Ice Centre as part of Northgate Mall’s ambitious redevelopment project. The center will offer enough bells and whistles to be “one of the finest NHL training facilities ever built,” in the words of NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke.
“If we are awarded an NHL franchise,” Leiweke said in a news release trumpeting the new ice center, “creating a one-of-a-kind training facility that can serve as the home of hockey in the Pacific Northwest for youth and adult hockey, all within the city of Seattle, is critical.”
Though Leiweke’s statement still contains the requisite “if,” conveying the possibility that the awarding of an NFL franchise is not a done deal, today’s announcement was anything but uncertain. NHL Seattle says the privately funded facility — projected cost: $70 million — will become an anchor tenant of Simon Property Group’s redevelopment of the Northgate complex and will become a "host site for training camps, national tournaments, figure skating and training, public ice time and learn-to-skate programs."
Last week, the executive committee of the NHL voted 9-0 to recommend that the league’s full board of governors award Seattle an expansion franchise when it meets in December. If that happens, a Seattle franchise could begin NHL play in October 2020 inside a renovated KeyArena at Seattle Center.
“In building our new home for NHL hockey in Seattle,” Leiweke said, “it is important that we build a facility that has the necessary infrastructure and access for our community to grow the great game of hockey. Our goal is to provide access and opportunity to the game of hockey for children of all ages, no matter their financial means. With no permanent ice rinks within the city of Seattle, we’re excited that will change with this project in the near future.”
Leiweke expects construction would be complete in time for the Seattle franchise's inaugural season and that construction will begin “as soon as is feasible.”