Sports

Seattle Thunderbirds could be making the move to Kent

Mirror staff

How does the Kent Thunder-birds sound?

If everything works out, the name change could become a reality before the 2008 Western Hockey League season kicks off.

The Seattle Thunderbirds hockey team has an agreement with Kent to make the city its new home if the city follows through on a proposal announced last week to construct a 6,500-seat arena that would cost about $35 million.

The Thunderbirds currently play their home games at KeyArena, where they average about 4,300 fans a game.

If the Thunderbirds were to leave, Seattle would be without a hockey team since the Seattle Metropolitans won the Stanley Cup in 1917.

But the project will only move forward if a feasibility study, to be completed in a few weeks by the city of Kent, shows that an investment of taxpayers’ money will be returned in revenues generated from hockey games and other events — which could include concerts, conferences and trade shows.

The Seattle Thunderbirds, under the proposal announced Thursday, would be the major tenant.

The possible move south by the Thunderbirds is the third Seattle-based team to discuss the idea. The Seattle Seahawks are moving their headquarters and training center to a site in Renton overlooking Lake Washington, and Renton officials also are talking with owners of the Seattle Supersonics basketball team, who are threatening to leave Seattle if KeyArena isn’t remodeled.

The center envisioned in Kent would be built on 17 acres of city-owned land that currently houses the Commons Playfield off of Central Avenue.

The site is just north of the new Kent Station — a complex of restaurants, retail shops and movie theaters.

City officials say they would plan on replacing the six baseball fields and six soccer fields that would be eliminated with the construction of an events center.

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