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Commentary: The NHL response shows again why Seattle is a world-class sports town and deserves both winter sports

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On this Oscar Sunday, the award for the best performance by a local fan base... goes to Seattle – a city that took just 12 minutes to reach its goal of 10,000 season ticket deposits for an NHL team. A city that reached 33,000 deposits in about 30 hours!

Seattle, you’ve outdone yourself once again.

If there was any concern that there wouldn’t be interest for a winter sports franchise, this week settled it in a huge way. The NHL is coming, and it WILL succeed. Just like the NBA should’ve never left and should’ve been replaced a long time ago ever since it did.

And it also sends a message to the NBA stalwarts in the area: Stay vigilant. Keep the faith. And continue to use the fantastic grass-roots effort demonstrated by the NHL to Seattle crowd over the last five years as an example that it does work – clearly not on our timeline, but it will happen in the end.

I was asked earlier this week how I would reconcile my thoughts about the location of the arena – how a renovated KeyArena clearly didn’t deter initial interest from NHL fans from putting down their deposits. And while the support exceeded my (and everyone’s) expectations, that doesn’t mean that a great majority of fans wouldn’t still prefer the arena to be somewhere else.

As many of us have said from the beginning: You could put the arena behind a dumpster in a narrow alleyway, and we’d still go if it meant bringing the Sonics back to Seattle.

Clearly, that’s also the mindset with the NHL: Give us something tangible, and we’ll be there. All we want is a team!

Which is why this week was so incredibly important – not only for the NHL, but also the NBA. All the haters and ignorant people outside this city can continue to promulgate the myth that the Sonics left because of a lack of fan support, but we all know the real reasons. And this was a reminder: Seattle has a fanbase ready, willing and able to support the NBA’s return. The league might be doing fine without Seattle, but in my opinion, it’s still missing a huge opportunity by not being here.

Finally, I’d like to address the “There are more important things than sports” crowd. Of course there are. Of course we’d all like to eradicate homelessness and address income equality and create a harmonious utopia where seven protestors aren’t shutting down traffic for hours.

But sports ARE special. Sports DO have a purpose. They DO have cultural value – and they ARE more important than you think.

It’s the reason 25,000 people put at least $500 down for pro hockey tickets in just one day. It’s why a sellout crowd of 8,319 showed up in Everett to watch the Silvertips last night, and why a crowd of more than 40,000 showed up at CenturyLink Field for the Sounders opener today.

And I’d argue that in this turbulent political time, local sports gives us all a chance to stand united, and put those differences aside. For one purpose. For one city.

That’s why the NHL will succeed here. And eventually it’s a big reason, the NBA will succeed again here too.

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