If Portland landed an NHL team, the Moda Center would be the eleventh arena in North America to host both NBA and NHL teams. When the Moda Center was built, it was designed with both sports in mind, so sight lines for hockey are not an issue. There are other arenas that can host either sport, but for the sake of comparison, only these ten will be discussed. Here’s a brief rundown of the ten existing facilities:
United Center, Chicago: Blackhawks and Bulls
Staples Center, Los Angeles: Kings, Clippers and Lakers
Madison Square Garden, Manhattan: Rangers and Knicks
Barclay’s Center, Brooklyn: Islanders and Nets
TD Garden, Boston: Bruins and Celtics
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia: Flyers and 76ers
American Airlines Center, Dallas: Stars and Mavericks
Air Canada Centre, Toronto: Maple Leafs and Raptors
Verizon Center, Washington D.C.: Capitals and Wizards
Pepsi Center, Denver: Avalanche and Nuggets
A major similarity between the ten facilities listed is they all have access to public transit. This will be further elaborated upon in its own article down the road, but the Moda Center is served by four light rail lines, two street cars and six bus routes. In terms of transit access, the Moda Center is one of the best-served sports districts in the country, and definitely the best for a city of its size. This is in stark contrast to fellow Pacific Northwest city Seattle, which has one light rail line and a street car.
Despite the Moda Center’s excellent transportation access, looking over the list you can’t help but notice that most of the cities have larger populations than Portland. The exception is Denver, which incidentally has the shortest-tenured NHL team on the list. The Avalanche moved to Denver in 1995, and immediately won the Stanley Cup, building a fanbase as quickly as possible. Besides being similarly sized, Denver and Portland have a number of other similarities at the moment:
Red-hot real estate market
Booming tech scene
World-class outdoors access
Thriving microbrew community
Legal recreational marijuana industry
Western vibe attracting transplants from all over
It would be a stretch to say that Portland and Denver are sister cities (climate, landscape, zoning, politics, transportation, and other differences), but Denver’s ability to host and retain an NHL franchise over the last twenty years is encouraging. An NHL rivalry between the cities wouldn’t be as natural as Vancouver or San Jose, but all it would take is a few intense playoff series. Red Wings/Avalanche, Penguins/Capitals, Wild/Blackhawks all come to mind as rivalries built in the postseason.
It’s not far-fetched to believe that if it works for Denver, it would work for Portland. We have everything ready but the actual franchise. Regardless of the situation behind the team, we could accommodate them almost instantly. Let’s hope pro hockey finds its way here sooner rather than later. Viva la revolution!