Seattle boosts NHL bid with game-changing training facility plan

Seattle has enhanced its efforts to land an NHL ice hockey expansion franchise by setting out plans to build a 180,000sq ft practice facility and headquarters.

Expected to cost around $70m (£53.6m/€61m) in private funds, the three-rink facility will be built at the soon-to-be-revamped Northgate Mall in the Washington city.

The main rink will have seating for up to 1,000 spectators, while the other two rinks on site will each have additional seats for 400 fans.

In addition to the potential NHL team, the facility will be used to stage games and tournaments for amateur ice hockey teams, as well as figure skating clubs and other ice events.

“We are truly dedicated to giving back and that’s what this facility is going to do,’’ Tod Leiweke, president and chief executive of NHL Seattle, said, according to the Seattle Times newspaper. “It’s going to give back and fuel other dreams.

“We are absolutely committed to building a championship team. And we believe that this facility will give us an extraordinary advantage in doing that.

“This facility is so significant, it will be nationally and internationally renowned for hosting tournaments. There is simply not another site like this.

“We’re here to grow the game. And we think there are plenty of opportunities to do that. So, we’re going to be great partners.”

Leiweke said the new facility is targeted to open by October 2020 to coincide with the launch of the NHL franchise. Once completed, the centre would become the anchor tenant of a three-phase renovation being carried out to redevelop the Northgate Mall over a period of up to 15 years.

Confirmation of the development plans comes after the NHL last week confirmed that it will hold a meeting in December to vote on launching a new team in the 2020-21 season.

Seattle is widely expected to secure the expansion franchise, having already set out plans to house the team at a revamped KeyBank Arena. The City of Seattle has signed off on a renovation project worth $700m.

The NHL’s Board of Governors will gather to discuss the league expansion plans from December 3-4.

Image: Tiffany Von Arnim