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Potential expansion in Atlanta: project moving ahead at lightning speed

For several months now, the subject of an NHL team returning to Atlanta has been making the rounds. Of course, most of the work is done away from the spotlight, but Bill Daly’s words in September were quite eloquent: the league truly believes that this time, it would be the right time for a union between the league and Atlanta.

At the time all this came out, colleague Charles-Alexis Brisebois compared the whole thing to a dysfunctional couple. And even today, it makes sense.

Since then, news of the project has been scarce… until now.

According to Kevin Weekes, the project to build a new (NHL) arena in downtown Atlanta is progressing at breakneck speed, with the project design moving forward very quickly and interviews to find the company to build it already underway.

Clearly, then, everything seems to be falling into place.

Of course, building an arena without knowing whether an NHL team will ever play in it involves its share of risk (talk to the folks in Quebec City), but I dare believe that the folks in Atlanta have done their homework and have guarantees (or, at least, very good reasons to believe) that the arrival of a team would follow the construction of the arena.

And unfortunately for Quebec City, we know that Gary Bettman really believes in the Atlanta market, and that he’s more likely to opt for it than for a Nordiques return if he has both projects on the table. And since both would play in the Eastern Conference…

The question, now, is also whether it would be an expansion or a relocation of a team (read Coyotes here). Weekes uses the word “expansion”, but with the Coyotes still without a long-term NHL arena, perhaps moving the Coyotes to Atlanta would be the lesser evil for Bettman.

We’ll be following the project’s progress over the coming months, but Atlanta is acting like a city that feels its turn could come soon in the NHL. Three’s a crowd, as they say…


– I’m thinking the same thing.

– He had a huge game yesterday afternoon.

– Nice read on the Wild.

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