Metro Seattle: NHL, NBA and Arena - Part II
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02-01-2012, 05:49 AM
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Seattle, WA
Seattle & the Pacific NW DOES had the market and population interest for NHL hockey and bring a team to the US NW.
WHL: 2 teams in metro area: Seattle Thunderbirds (Kent 20mi South) & Everett Silvertips (29 mi North). Seattle averages 4k per game and Everett averages 5k per game in attendance. 2 other teams in State (3-4h hrs away) Tri-Cities & Spokane; 1 other US team within 3 hrs (Portland); 2 Canadian teams within 3 hrs (Vancouver & Victoria).
US Hockey enrollment: WA had 7,615 people enrolled in 09-10. (need to enroll to play in leagues in US for insurance purposes)
Without NHL: KS 1,574; NV 940; OR 804; GA 2,142
With NHL: AZ 3,339; MO 6,295; NC 5,598; TN 2,430; TX 10,909
Greater Seattle Hockey League for adult rec hockey has ~110 teams. Largest in US NW and one of largest in US (previously advertised as top 5).
TV & radio:
Seattle area homes get CBC-Vancouver, NBC Sports (VS), Comcast Sports-NW (Canucks & Sharks) and NHL Network which all carry NHL games regularly. Prime Sports-NW also carries random WHL games. Ratings for various games may be misleading as many people I know watch the CBC version of the same game over the NBC version (i.e. Stanley Cup playoffs & all star game). The Stanley Cup is also misleading as previously mentioned the local NBC affiliate (KING) moved the game to their secondary channel KONG. With the games starting at 500pm locally, the local news programs took priority. I am sure similar occurred in Los Angeles & San Francisco. When a game is only on one i.e. the Olympic Gold Medal game, Seattle was ranked 14th in the US for that game with a 19.3/45 rating on par with St Louis and greater than NYC & DC.
Local sports talk radio stations (x4 in metro area) have regular NHL & WHL segments. At least 2 of these stations play Canucks games on a regular basis.
Seattle is the 12th largest metro (CSA) in the US with about 4.1M people just behind Detroit & Atlanta and ahead of Minneapolis, & Denver. The area has a steady growth rate of about 13%. Much of the population growth from immigration is from Asia and Canada for the tech industries in the area. Microsoft & Boeing both sponsor corporate hockey leagues for their employees. Many of the people in the GSHL playing are from Canada & Europe (many all-Russian teams).
Seattle's economy is driven by a mix of older industrial companies (Boeing, Weyerhauser), and "new economy" Internet (Amazon, Real) and technology (Microsoft,) companies, service (Starbucks), design (Nordstrom) and clean technology companies. The city's gross metropolitan product was $231 billion in 2010, making it the 12th largest metropolitan economy in the United States just behind Miami & Atlanta and ahead of Detroit & Minneapolis.
I had tickets to todays 1/31 game in Vancouver vs Chicago which were the 2nd cheapest tickets on ticketmaster and cost me $350 for a pair. I sold those for about face value and have seen NHL games in Chicago, Denver, Dallas & San Jose this season for less than the that one pair cost. People from Vancouver will make the drive to Seattle to watch games as many people in Seattle currently do to go Vancovuer to catch games. This will be similar to the Seahawks & Mariners drawing people in throughout the PacificNW region. MLS& NCAA teams cater more to a local crowd and are different to those at the NFL, MLB & NHL games I have gone to. For the NHL playoffs last year, there were significant delays (above normal for weekday afternoons & late night) at the US-Canada border before & after each game which I can vouch for since I was in these lineups often. Similarly I have been in similar backlogs from Vancouver to Seattle for Seahawks games. You can tell the lineups are with the sports fans due to the decals, flags and jerseys being worn.
I imagine that Seattle would evolve into a market similar to Denver & Minneapolis for cities with the 4 major sports. There will still be strong support for all levels and success & effort will help drive gate attendance. MLB runs April-Sept; NHL run Oct-April = convenient. NFL & NCAAF is Sept-Jan but only 1 day per week. MLS is ridiculously strongly supported in Seattle and many feel that NHL will have a similar connection. MLS season is March-Nov thus some overlap but minimal. My biggest issue is that a team would need to come with a NBA team to build a new arena. I feel the NBA will be the biggest deterrent to attendance as the two seasons run in parallel. The local WHL teams are far enough away from the core of the main Seattle city to keep their local markets and provide a cheaper alternative to the NHL for the area.
Seattle NHL history:
Initial 6 team expansion in 67: Seattle was a consideration due to high attendance in WHL games (pro league back then) but no other pro-teams in town made the league look elsewhere.
1974 Seattle awarded expansion NHL team for 76 season. Prospective owner balked at WHA team or NHL relocation. Expansion team was revoked due to local & league financing issues. 2 teams relocated in the mid-late 70s and 1 folded. Legal issues continued over a decade on this front.
1989 NHL was expanding again in the early 90s. Seattle had 2 owner groups led by the NBA Sonics and Microsoft. Two groups merged efforts but then the NBA group walked out at the last minue leaving the Microsoft bid empty. Renovations to the Key Arena set for around this time made the arena too small for the NHL footprint thus eliminating the potential for competition in the arena.
NOW - opposite of 60s: too many teams potentially for market. Key Arena is still too small for NHL (11k horseshoe & bad sight lines/angles) and was deemed insufficient for NBA after 15 years of use after remodel. 2 WHL arenas are too small (ShoWare <Kent>- 6.5k; Comcast <Everett> - 8.5k) and the Tacoma Dome is in Tacoma and old but could be renovated to accomodate on an interm basis. The Tacoma Dome hosted NHL preseason games in the 80s-90s and the Everett Comcast Arena has recently (09) held an NHL preseason game between Tampa & Phoenix.
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