(A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images Sport)
By: Trevor Williams, Sports Radio KJR
Talk about having conflicting feelings. What were Seattleites supposed to think when they found out the owner of their adored Seahawks was competing with Seattle to acquire the Phoenix Coyotes (had their new arena deal fallen through).
Well, don’t think anything yet.
Before hockey fans in Washington get angry about Paul Allen wanting to take the NHL to Portland, Dwight Jaynes, from CSN Northwest in Portland, has some reasons for the cities of Seattle and Portland to stay optimistic (and well, Seattle knows all too well about optimism).
Paul Allen, a savvy businessman from the Northwest was apparently, “all over it [negotiations to relocate the Coyotes] from the start.” Allen, the owner of the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Seahawks took what Dwight Jaynes called, “A low-profile, under the radar sort of stance with it [potential acquisition of the Coyotes], which is often the case.” This stance by Allen and his desire to bring professional hockey to Portland apparently had our neighbors to the south in a good position to steal the Coyotes from right under Seattle’s nose.
Jaynes said, “I really do believe they [Portland] had a great shot at it and I do think it’s going to happen again. Both Seattle and Portland will have other chances.”
Right now, I’m sure Seattle’s hockey and basketball fans are feeling a little bit used, but don’t worry. Jaynes explained, “I still don’t see it working [Phoenix’s new lease agreement]. I don’t see anything that’s really going to change the way things were in Arizona and I think there’s probably an out clause in that lease somewhere a year or two down the road. I think we’re going to see this come up again.”
When Jaynes considered negotiations between the NHL and these two cities arising again, he said, “I do think eventually (and I’m saying within the next four of five years) we’re going to see Seattle and Portland in the NHL. That’s what the NHL wants and they need, for sure, more teams in the Northwest. They are looking very enviously at that Cascadia Cup soccer rivalry, thinking they can create that in hockey and I think they can.”
Still… It hurts to know hockey and Seattle might have not been as sure-fire as we all hoped. Sources have said the potential of the Key Arena hosting NHL games was a farce.
The Coyotes situation might have uncovered the key issue with acquiring hockey in Seattle. Portland’s arena, the Rose Garden, was hockey ready. Seattle… Well their ideal NHL arena is still only a blueprint, originally expected to be shared by an NBA franchise which Seattle doesn’t currently possess.
Although, in the end money still talks. Jaynes said, “The NHL will probably still take the highest offer no matter how bad the other things [like arenas] were and if Portland wasn’t willing to go as high, I’m not sure Portland gets it.” Also Jaynes said, “There was interest inside the NHL to have Paul Allen in the league.”
Jaynes indicated a couple reasons why Allen might’ve finally decided to entertain the idea of having a second tenant in the Rose Garden, after being adamant for years on it being the exclusive home of the Portland Trail Blazers.
According to Jaynes, “Right now, there’s real value to having another full-time tenant in that building. You get several big time events to flush out all those calendar dates when the Rose Garden was dark. You may lose money on the hockey side, but you maybe make a lot more money on the arena side.”
Also he said, “If you just break even on the hockey side and you do ok in the arena, you do ok with the TV, let’s say you break even with the hockey team… you know what? You hold it for ten, fifteen years. What do you do? Double your money? Triple your money? That’s the concept with all these pro sport franchises.”
Not only financially, but logistically, hockey seems to make sense in Portland as well. The Trail Blazers and a hockey affiliate could share PR teams, marketing departments, and other overlapping services. Jaynes explained that this would obviously have some advantages for the city of Portland and be mutually beneficially to both sports franchises.
Instead of NHL and NBA fans in Seattle getting disappointed or angry with being a “leverage city,” take this as a positive. The scenario with Portland is another case for why Seattle needs an NBA franchise. It’s another indication of why the NHL and the NBA will work together as a cohesive unit in our rain-soaked city.
When Chris Hansen is able to acquire an NBA franchise and build his arena (and I say when because I believe with his background and resources it will happen), Seattle will reap the benefits in the form of the “big four” sports leagues finally calling this city “home.”
Portland, likewise, is also ready to take on an NHL franchise. The last few weeks, the under the radar discussions by Paul Allen, and the NHL’s reported interest prove it.
Jaynes explained that having the NBA and NHL linked in a city, “makes good business sense.”
Don’t be mad with Paul Allen for potentially stealing a team from Seattle. Especially since it was a team that never ended up leaving Phoenix. Look at what Paul Allen showed the NHL, NBA, and now all of us. It’s a positive. It’s another reassuring reason why the NHL and NBA can and should one day call Seattle and Portland home.
Portland is already halfway there. Our journey in Seattle? Well… I think that’s just beginning.
To hear the full Ian Furness' interview with Dwight Jaynes, click here