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NHL Practice Facility In Seattle Goes Beyond Sports

NHL Hockey Partners
The proposed Northgate Mall home for Seattle’s NHL team includes a five-story office building (left) and three separately housed ice rinks for team and public use. ";

We've seen signs of progress recently in the effort to get a professional hockey team approved for Seattle by the end of the year.

KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel told Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick that the benefits go beyond sports.

Big Announcements

Earlier this month, professional hockey in Seattle became one step closer to reality with the National Hockey League board of governors' executive committee recommending to advance the franchise application to the owners' meeting in December.

That's when it appears Seattle will be given the 32nd franchise in the NHL. The goal is to have a team on the ice in a renovated KeyArena by October 2020.

This week, Seattle Hockey Partners announced a $70 million practice facility will be built at Northgate Mall.

Expanding Beyond Professional Hockey

"This is really kind of a big deal for the city because they want to grow youth sports here as well as recreational hockey for everyone," Thiel said.

"There's just not been a lot of ice available to grow the sport and this will make a big difference in that regard."

"They're going to have three sheets of ice, which is very cool. That way you can run multiple things at the same time."

"It will be the practice facility for the NHL team. And that team will be housed in a five-story building that's adjacent to the practice ice. It's going to start at two floors initially and then grow as the project develops."

"There are going to be two adjacent ice sheets that, really, are going to be for community use - youth hockey, senior hockey."

"They're going to be able to have tournaments here, when you have to have multiple matches going on at the same time. And it also brings in out-of-town tourist revenue."

'Economic Boon' For Northgate Area

"It is an economic boon and it certainly is a benefit to the Northgate community because they're going to have a (light rail) stop there by 2021. They've got North Seattle College. They've got the medical center there," Thiel noted.

"So, it's really going to be a boost economically for a neighborhood that probably has missed a lot of the economic growth prospects which (have) been happening in downtown Seattle and other parts. (It's) a big score for that community."

Private Money, Public Benefit

Thiel pointed out that the practice facility and the $750-million renovation of KeyArena are privately funded.

"It's keeping the municipal government doing what it does best and not building entertainment facilities or recreation things but dealing with the homeless problem."

"I think that is a real bonus for a lot of people - that they are continuing to fund this project and taking it off the backs of municipal government."

"I've been a long advocate of keeping governments out of the entertainment business, out of the sports business. The more they can do this, the better off we all are."

Never miss an episode again. Subscribe to Sports With Art Thiel with iTunes orGoogle Play now. You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and

Kirsten Kendrick hosts Morning Edition on KNKX and the sports interview series "Going Deep," talking with folks tied to sports in our region about what drives them — as professionals and people.
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.