After The Vegas Golden Knights got their NHL team, there has been an odd numbered 31 teams in the league. Good news is it looks like The Emerald City is going to get their own team to round out that number. On Thursday, March 1st, there was a season ticket drive held to test out if a team would be viable in Seattle. In short, yes! Seattle hockey fans were asked to put up a deposit of $500-$1000 depending on ticket types. The NHL had this drive set up to test the market in Seattle, it passed, 3 times over.
Seattle had a goal of securing 10,000 season ticket deposits, and they got them, in only 12 minutes. In the first hour they had sold 25,000 and 32,000 in only 24 hours. To put that into perspective it took Las Vegas 2 days to get 5,000 season tickets sold and a year and a half to sell 18,000. Seattle closed the sale with 33,000 deposits on Friday. It’s safe to say, Seattle wants hockey.
That’s how long it took to hit our goal of 10,000 deposits.
We’re now at 25,000 and counting.
Thank you, Seattle.#NHLSeattle
— NHL Seattle (@NHLSeattle_) March 1, 2018
Vegas ended up selling 16,000 season tickets in an arena of 17,500, which means roughly 90.5% of seats were sold as season tickets. If we do a little bit of quick math Seattle will have a 17,100 seat arena and if we assume Seattle will sell a similar percentage of individual tickets and season ticket as Vegas, they will sell 15,475 season tickets.That means there is already a 17,525 person waiting list for seats. Is Seattle actually a Canadian market? Well probably.
The expansion franchise will be playing in KeyArena next to the Space Needle. The Keyarena used to be home to the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds and the NBA’s Seattle Sonics. The Arena is currently home to 2 basketball teams, the Seattle Redhawks (Seattle University Men’s team) and the Seattle Storm of the WNBA.
The Keyarena will undergo extensive $600 million renovations by 2020. The renovation will take the seating capacity from the current 15,177 to around 17,100 for hockey games. The Oak View Group, who are the prospective owners of the NHL franchise, are also looking to bring an NBA team back to the city too. The Seattle Sonics last played in the city in 2008 before being moved to Oklahoma.
Not only are they doing great on paper but it has been confirmed by Gary Bettman that Seattle will have the same expansion draft rules as Vegas did in the summer of 2017. In short existing teams can protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender or eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender. Players with no move clauses must be included in the protected players. In combination with good luck and good management, the draft helped The Vegas Golden Knights really get off on the right foot. Seattle should expect such treatment, if only because they are paying a record $650M to get their team, a cool $150M more than Vegas paid only 2 years ago.
The Pacific, Metro and Atlantic Divisions already have 8 teams but the Central has only 7. Geographically Seattle creates a need for a little bit of shuffling. By looking at a map the simplest solution to this problem would be to move the Arizona Coyotes into the Central Division. The Coyotes are the farthest team east and don’t have a strong rivalry with any team in the division. This would additionally give every division a nice even 8 teams.
Not only are Seattle residents excited for a team, Vancouver is also very excited for the team. Vancouver could have a divisional rivalry outside of Calgary. Let’s face it, Vancouver’s rivalry is pretty one sided as Calgary is pretty tied up in the Battle for Alberta with the Oilers. Not only that but there is excitement for Vancouver fans to have a chance to be the away fans for once. Calgary is the closest team to Vancouver and is about an 11 hour drive, Seattle is only about 3 hours drive. Vancouver fans may be excited to have a team in the area that has the potential to win off the hop (like Vegas) because Vancouver seems to be stuck indefinitely at the bottom of the league.
If Vancouver fans were excited to have an NHL team so close because of cheaper tickets, think again, with the rate they are selling tickets now, don’t expect they will be much cheaper than the Canucks.
Now, if only they would tell us that the team will be called the Seattle Kraken already, we all want it. Seattle is expected to play its first year in 2020-21.