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Arena images show Seattle readying for an NHL franchise

Seattle Skyline Coming soon -- or in a few years -- perhaps: Hockey Night in Seattle NHL-style. (George Rose/Getty Images)

By Allan Muir

No one is saying that the NHL is headed for Seattle, either through expansion or (earmuffs, Phoenix!) relocation of a current franchise.

But if it ever happens, some lucky team is in line to skate in a groundbreaking building that could become the league's new showplace.

Multi-millionaire Chris Hansen posted a couple of photos at the Sonics Arena blog today, showing the hockey configuration of the proposed $490 million SoDo Arena ... and it looks pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Hansen thinks so, too.

"The bottom line is as good as this is for basketball, it is an even better building for hockey," he wrote. "We have designed the seats behind the backboard/goal to retract backwards and the first few rows of courtside seating can be removed to accommodate hockey's largest playing surface and dasher board. The net result puts hockey fans even closer to the action, including our pocket suites. Given the size of the playing surface and speed of the game, we also think the Sonic Rings will prove to be one of the most unique and valued viewing experiences in the game."

The Pocket Suites and Sonic Rings sound like they'll offer something brand new to the NHL experience. The suites will be situated less than 10 rows from the ice, putting them closer to the action than in any other building. That's something that should go over well with the well-heeled types who shell out for those things.

Us po' folk get our own unique vantage point with the Sonic Rings, a design that minimizes the nose-bleed seating in the upper bowl with a more fan-friendly approach. The trio of stacked balconies will feature more than 2,000 seats, but also a standing room area similar to the very popular Party Zone at the Death Star Cowboys Stadium. And while my engineering-challenged brain can't quite figure this out, apparently they can be moved up or down to match the needs of the event. Plus, they'll be directly over the ice, which should make for a louder, more involved crowd. Sounds cool.

The new building is still years from completion, so an immediate move would require playing out of the far less desirable Key Arena. But if everything comes together as Hansen plans, the new rink will be well worth the wait.

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