Quick thoughts on Florida Attendance

In case you missed it, there were several photos of an empty arena during the Florida Panthers game last night. People quickly tagged me, mentioned me and emailed last night with references to moving the Panthers to Seattle. I get it, it looks bad and we knew this was coming based on announcements from the new owner in September.

As many of you know, I have never been a fan for relocation as most attendance drops are short term in view and usually tied to poor performance on the ice. So I quickly reminded people that it was not too long ago that the Penguins, Blackhawks and Bruins were all lagers in the attendance department.

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Recapping some stories of the week

Here is a quick summary of some of the stories that were passed around this week relevant to the NHL coming to Seattle.

Seattle Arena EIS

KOMO news reported that the Arena EIS process was delayed again. Which is pretty consistent with what we heard from Chris Daniels in July. I dismissed it as no news but then…

Chris Daniels from King5 gives us significant insight to the EIS timeline: Hansen submits final paperwork for EIS piece of Seattle Arena.

I do not want to imply that this is earth shattering news but it was the necessary next step in the EIS process so great to see this progressing.

Arizona Coyotes Ownership

Yes, we are actually talking about the Phoenix Arizona Coyotes Ownership again. Respected reporter from the New York Post, Larry Brooks published this article that the Coyotes were looking for new investors. The tone of the article gave anti-sunbelt critics plenty of material to work with for a day or so. I usually try to give this types of stories some time to breath before forming an opinion based on a source. The article turned out to be fairly accurate but there was certainly more to the story.

Enter Craig Morgan from the Arizona Republic. Craig posted this follow up on the report with more specific information and a very different tone. One nugget of information is that the Valuation is somewhere in the $305M range just a year after the team was purchased for $170M. Without knowing the specifics of the deal between all parties, it’s really hard to assess what is really going on here. Either way, Craig’s article is certainly spinning it as a very positive thing for the Coyotes.

To tie a bow on it, Joe Yerdon wrote this piece on the situation. The article is worth a read. The cliff notes version is that as much as fans and media have been critical of how Bettman handled the Coyotes situation, the value has gone up, he did not lose a top US TV market and with the new investor, they have more stability and some options.

My take, which is not really going out on a limb, is reality is somewhere in the middle. I have always felt the Coyotes out clause is a reasonable option should the franchise not turn around. I have never felt a move was inevitable. Hopefully the money with help the Coyotes with a marketing push and a potential playoff run. I believe in hockey very much and think with the right ownership group the Coyotes can make it in Glendale. If they can’t, even people in Arizona can not blame the league for trying to make it work.

Portland

Paul Allen sat down for an interview with the Oregonian about the upcoming Trailblazer season and he was asked about the likelihood of bringing an NHL team to Portland inPORTLAND-10 the next five year. (Last Question in the article) His response is consistent with previously reported news about Portland. For those that don’t know, Portland was on the shortlist of destination cities for the Coyotes back in June of 2013.

ProHockeyTalk then summed up the whole story very well with this article. It is a great piece to get caught up on the Portland scenario.

I believe Portland & Paul Allen could be a player in expansion or relocation. Based on everything I have read, I still believe that Seattle is the most preferred city of all cities mentioned so if our Arena plan hits some snags, Portland might move from a contingency plan to “the plan”. IF and it is a big if, the Coyotes ownership ends up exercising their escape plan, Portland could be the destination. That said, I don’t think Paul Allen wants to be the landlord, he wants to be the owner of the team.

 

 

 

NHL to Seattle Survey #2 Part 2: Pro Sports

In the first post on the 2nd Survey, we looked into the results of some of the Western Hockey League questions. For part 2, we will look at some of the professional sports questions that were asked as part of the survey.  Keep in mind, solicitations for responses were primarily done via the NHLtoSeattle Facebook page. This certainly is not a random sample of Washington State residents. If you would like respond to the survey, I intend to keep it open here for a little longer.

NHLGamesWashingtonState

An amazing 40% of folks that responded to the survey in Washington State went to an NHL game last year. I have been thinking about throwing out a challenge to the community to see if we can get someone from the Puget Sound to every hockey rink in the league. I had folks send me pics from Chicago, Florida and Phoenix last year, representing Seattle. Why not every rink?

LiveGames

Nothing to surprising and tough to really compare Mariners to Seahawks and Sounders considering there is so many more games for the Mariners. I also asked about UW Football (80% of people did not go to games) and UW Basketball (92% did not go to one game).

Not a local team but I asked how many Canucks games you went to last year. 20% of you went to at least one Canucks game.

Canucks

Impressive but not surprising. I’ve gone to several Canucks games since I moved to the area. What is more impressive is that when you compare the immediately above numbers to the first graph I posted. The difference means that people are going to a bunch of NHL games outside of Vancouver. (I went to games in LA and Philly last year.)

There has been some discussion on dilution in the Seattle market but I’ve often argued there is very little crossover with Basketball so adding both the Sonics and an NHL team would not really cause the fan base to be split, it would actually be the perfect compliment. Tough to prove that out but this next question paints that picture a little better.

TVgamesbyLeague

From a TV perspective, the people that responded to this survey, which are mostly NHL fans have more crossover into the NFL than any of the other pro sport. Hmmmm…so maybe the close to 1 Million people who flooded the streets of Seattle for the Super Bowl parade could be future NHL fans. It makes sense since the NHL has a lot in common with Football…minus the timeouts and setup time between plays.

What are your thoughts?

NHL to Seattle Survey #2 Part 1: The WHL edition

I received some great insight and response from the 2nd NHL to Seattle Survey. So much so that I need to break it down into two or three posts. Without further ado, I present the WHL edition of the results.

Disclosures: a majority of the promotion and respondents came from the NHLtoSeattle Facebook page or twitter account. These are people who are generally interested in the NHL to Seattle movement so these are not numbers that represent the Seattle population. More they represent the hockey community in the Puget Sound. As expected, most of respondents were from Washington State (~92%).

How many WHL games did you attend last year?

noofWHLGames

 

 

 

 

Here you can see the average WHL games by city. The size of the circle represents the volume of respondents compared to the other cities, while the shade of green represents the average games attended by respondent.

WHLGames by City

I then asked people what is the biggest barrier in attending more WHL Games. For the data below, I filtered on King. Pierce and Snohomish County respondents.

ReasonsWHL

I would say the results are fairly predictable. For those of you that don’t know, Everett (Silvertips) and Kent (Thunderbirds) are about 30 mile drive away from the two densest cities of Seattle and Bellevue. For people that work a traditional 9 to 5 job, getting to a midweek game from either Seattle or Redmond-Bellevue area could take well over an hour. I know that is the reason I don’t get to more games (I live & work in Seattle).

There were several write ins that said something to the effect of, “because it isn’t the NHL”.

What is your favorite WHL team?

WHLTeam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you look at the state view, it is no surprise where the fans are clustered.

FavoriteWHLMAp

How many Seattle Thunderbirds games did you attend last season? (Filtering on Washington State Zip codes)

ThunderbirdsGames

 

 

 

When isolating on respondents that indicated the Seattle Thunderbirds as their favorite team, you get the following results:

ThunderbirdsGames_ofTbirdFans

 

 

How many Everett Silvertips games did you attend last season? (Filtering on Washington State Zip codes)

TipsGames

 

 

 

Isolating on Everett Silvertips fans you get the following results:

TipsGames_ofTipsFans

 

 

Some bonus data, 23.4% of respondents went to at least one Seattle Thunderbird game and Everett Silvertip game. 35.4% of respondents went to neither a Tips or Birds game last year.

 

The NHL to Seattle Weekly roundup

We had a wild week. I have highlighted some of the most impactful articles, podcasts and other content that framed the week. It might be obvious, but I don’t agree with everything I am sharing but I still wanted to show some of the more interesting articles on the topic at hand.

Two initial reports set the stage and speculation on NHL expanding to Seattle.

  • Gallagher: Bettman has changed his tune on NHL expansion – This initial report seemed to reiterate a lot of what we have heard over the last 9 months with relatively no new insight with the exception of Las Vegas being a “done deal” other than picking an owner. (Let’s forgive the oxymoron in that sentence). This did not shock me or anyone else that has been all over this saga. I interpreted the done deal as maybe the NHL is convinced it could work in Vegas.
  • Howard Bloom tweets that NHL will expand 4 more teams by 2017 – This tweet kicked off a ton of articles with one that seemed to give it more credibility, the SI article. My opinion is that I am sure somewhere at NHL Headquarters there is a roadmap or a strategy document that probably has all four of those cities as potential expansion and relocation targets or options, it is not necessarily the plan of record. Having looked at Howard Bloom’s content on his website and his twitter account, I do not give it a lot of weight.

Denials from the NHL

It took less than 12 hours for mainstream hockey press to get the NHL’s take on the reports. Here are some of the notable articles on the denials.

The local perspective

Although other Seattle news outlets started reporting on the news, the NHL to Seattle mainstays, Geoff Baker from the Seattle Times and Chris Daniels from King5 weighed in.

CDtweets

Other interesting insight and notable opinions.

  • Half Of The NHL’s Rumored Expansion Cities Don’t Make Sense – article from Nate Silver’s 538 says Seattle and Vegas don’t make sense because…wait for it. Buried a link and 10 paragraphs in, people are not searching for “NHL” on google enough. Yes, that is the basis of the claim. In the referenced article, it also says “Sudbury-Thunder Bay” could better support a team. Keep in mind that those two cities are only 12 hours away from each other and have about 100,000 people in each of those cities so I am not sure where they anticipate putting an arena. Most of the people I talk to have been fairly critical of 538 since it moved over to ESPN. The unfortunate part about this article is that most people don’t read far enough to understand the methodology and/or have the time to fact check some of the claims in the article. By the way, I am sure NBC and Rogers would love a Sudbury vs Moncton Stanley Cup final matchup.
  • Duhatschek: NHL shift on expansion thinking came more than a year ago – I enjoy the globe and mail (most of the time). There were several articles that validated that expansion is coming, this is just one of the better ones.
  • Canzano: When the NHL is ready, Paul Allen is waiting in the ‘Shark Tank’ – I have never counted out Portland and this article sums up their position fairly nicely. My take, if Paul Allen wants an NHL team, he can probably get one. If (and that is a big If) the whole Arizona Coyotes thing does not work itself out, Portland could be a destination.

The irony of this whole week is that if news like this broke in October or November, we would not have heard 10% of the volume we heard this week. Writers are itching for some content to write about while in season I am hanging on Bettman and Daly’s every word to hear something about Seattle. We are going to be riding a rollercoaster for a while but we have to be patient. Try not to get too up or too down on these reports. It all takes time and to steal a phrase from Chris Daniels, there are lots of moving parts.

 

Keep Calm…there is nothing to see here.

Lots of news from yesterday but I am here to throw a wet blanket on “the report” that the NHL will expand to Las Vegas, Toronto, Quebec and Seattle by 2017. Maybe I’ve seen this city get their heartbroken of the Sacramento Kings last spring, or the hockey community let down by a vote in Glendale last July. It could also be that I’ve been following every detail of this story and know how one tweet can start of firestorm of articles that multiplies by the hour.

“The Report”HockeyView_SonicLevel3

The original “report” was really just a referenced tweet by some guy who had around 6000 followers. Most people claimed that SI (Sports Illustrated) was reporting the news but they were just reporting the report. Huh? Yep…that’s unfortunately how things happen these days. Once people saw the SI report it spread like wildfire with just about every news outlet reporting the report of the report. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to see the NHL to Seattle being discussed on the national stage. The reality is that this is not really news and not really credible.

Seattle and the NHL

Seattle is a great market for a Hockey team and the NHL knows it. In fact they have known it for a while. If you have followed King 5 Reporter, Chris Daniels or Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker, they have made it clear that the NHL likes this market based on discussions those guys have had with NHL brass. Don’t believe me? What about these quotes from 2013:

“The research that I have seen tells me that it would be a very strong hockey market. …Obviously if there were a team in Seattle it would create a decent rivalry with their northern neighbor, namely Vancouver.” – Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner

 
“But I think it’s safe to say we’re very intrigued by the Pacific Northwest generally. Going forward I would expect that to the extent expansion comes into the picture or relocation is needed, I’m sure the Pacific Northwest is going to get serious consideration.” – Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner

 

“With the [new] arena in Seattle, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to put hockey back into the Seattle/Portland marketplace and we have to make a commitment to that.” – Tim Leiweke, Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment CEO

A Roadmap?

Seattle, Las Vegas, Toronto and Quebec have probably been identified or prioritized at NHL headquarters as potential expansion or relocation markets. That is not really saying much now is it? Vegas might be the odd one in there but there might be other factors that us fans don’t see. I imagine the list includes Portland, Kansas City and Houston. As a business, the NHL needs to know what potential markets exits if a situation comes up that they want to expand or relocate a team.

 

Who can I trust?

That is a great question. I’ve been following this so long that I take just about everything I read with a grain of salt. Remember when Darrly Katz toured Key Arena? Well I do, so excuse my cynicism. Although they are not always right since a lot of this stuff is fluid, I go to Chris Daniels and Geoff Baker for my local perspective. On a national level, I like Elliot Freedman, Ken Campbell and James Mirtle.

 

And as I wrap up, here come the denials:

NHL denies expansion report, including a second team in Toronto

Tim Leiweke of the Maple Leafs calls expansion reports “just not true”

The Chris Daniels Radio Show Tour Archive

When Chris Daniels breaks some interesting arena news, he hits the airways. Here is a rundown of the shows he did on Tuesday. Occasionally Chris will give a little more context or insight to what was already reported. If you have the time, it is worth a listen.

Michael Grey Show on 710AM

Ian Furness Show on 950 KJR (Good nugget at the 12 minute mark)

The Moj Show on Team 1040 Vancouver BC – Daniels section is roughly the 30 minute mark

Chris was also on 1090 The Fan but from what I can tell, there is no archive. .

 

For good measure, here are a couple articles from main Canadian media.

Vancouver native seeking NHL team in Seattle (Toronto Sun)

Report: Prospective NHL owner reaches ‘non-binding agreement’ with Seattle arena developer (The Score)