SoDo Arena Timeline & NHL First

I am about to jump on a flight to Boston but wanted to share some news that broke this afternoon on the SoDo Arena.

True to his word on driving more transparency on the SoDo Arena process, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray revealed the current Arena Timeline in this post. It is a great post that gives a little more insight in the process involved in a project this massive.

Arena TimelineThis is roughly the same timeline we heard a couple months ago but lays out the detail of each milestone with dates. This also lines up with the NHL Board of Governors meeting before the NHL draft but I wouldn’t expect much from the NHL directly. I more likely scenario is that the final EIS report will trigger some public and private dialogue with a potential NHL owner, specifically, Victor Coleman with the City, County and Chris Hansen. This is a huge project that only gets done with collaboration on all sides.

In a separate but related bit of news. King5’s Chris Daniels, revealed that the Mayor is open to an NHL first scenario.

“Should folks in the NHL or potential owners come to us with a different financial plan that pencils out for the city and for our partners at the county, I would be willing to go back to the council and ask them to open that process,” said Murray in an interview at City Hall. “I believe there could be an adjustment for an NHL team first if there if a financial plan that pencils out for the city.”

There you have it folks, transparency and specifically addressing the possibility of an NHL first scenario.

Quick hits for February 24th

There have been several items of interest posted over the last 5 days. Nothing too groundbreaking but if you want to make sure you are as current as possible, here is your Tuesday reading and listening material.

NHL to Seattle News:

Broader news on NHL expansion:

Lastly, the two teams I put together for the RMHC hockey challenge raised over $40,000 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington. Big thanks to the Seattle Thunderbirds, players/fundraisers and all you great people that helped the cause.

IMG_5444

NHL Talent Pool Climbs

Occasionally I will get a comment about the NHL being too diluted. I dismiss these remarks rather quickly. I have looked at the data and tried to watch hockey from the 80s. Most people with deeper knowledge of the game know the talent has never been deeper. I’ve already shown how NHL league parity is extremely tight(Note: assist for league parity goes to the three point game aka the OTL)

From a future talent perspective, there continues to be an increase of people playing hockey. For Hockey weekend in America, I thought it might be a good time to show some data around participation around the country and around the world.

USA! USA! USA!

USA Hockey

As the graph shows, USA Hockey Player membership is up 23% since 1998-99. Roughly speaking, USA born players account for about 20% of the NHL Player pool. Below is how some of the states have increased.

USAHockey-Select States

California’s pop in participation can attributed to the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks capturing mindshare and population growth (~14% since 1999). Similar to California, Tennessee has seen a large % spike in memberships due to the Predators coming to the state with a successful product on the ice. In Illinois case, you can probably chalk that up to a good run by the Blackhawks.

The growth in the US is great but if that is only 20% of the player population of the NHL, that can only go so far.

O Canada

Canadian born hockey players make up about 50% of the player pool in the NHL so as far as a pipeline feeder system the NHL, Canada is it. Below is the Hockey Canada player membership data that I was able to obtain from the IIHF (2007 – 2014)

HockeyCanada

It is clear the player pool is increasing and the thought of adding two new teams should have minimal impact to the overall quality of talent as the talent continues to grow. Whether it is Seattle, Las Vegas, Houston or Kansas City, it will grow the amount of people playing hockey. That will in time, develop more NHL Talent.

Bonus material

Since I had the data, here is the Birth Country of players in the NHL by year

Players Birth Country

Potential Seattle NHL Ownership Groups Revealed

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times backed up his article last week on the arena locations with this piece on potential NHL ownership groups in Seattle. Long story short, there appears to be 3 potential groups roughly aligned to the 3 sites.

I created this handy dandy diagram to make sense of it all. Tod Leiweke and Thomas Tull were mentioned in the article as being part of the ownership groups but that seemed more speculative in nature which is why I did not include them in the diagram.

Ownership LandscapeOne last shameless plug, I am trying to get 100 people to donate $10 to the RMHC of Seattle just so I can donate $1500. Please consider donating. I am up to $410.

 

Breaking down the 3 arena options

In case you missed it, Gary Bettman mentioned Tukwila and Bellevue as potential sites for an NHL arena in the Seattle Area on a radio interview in Vancouver. Stick tap goes to Paul Rogers, from SonicsRising.com, for covering the news ahead of our more traditional media outlets. Geoff Baker from the Seattle Times then published this article with a lot more detail on the specific locations. As much as I love the SoDo location, it is great to see that Seattle’s dreams of landing an NHL team are not tied to any one plan. I breakdown the 3 locations by population, income, and driving distance.

Population

Puget Sound Population Map3

Seattle has ~ 6 times the population base of Bellevue. It is worth pointing out that Seattle’s area (142 Sq Miles) is much larger than Bellevue’s (36 Sq Miles). For this reason, to get a fair comparison you could include Kirkland, Redmond, and Sammamish. If you combine those populations, the Bellevue area has ~325K compared to Seattle’s ~650K. The closest comparable NHL market could be Minneapolis-St. Paul. The city of Tukwila is much, much smaller, but based on the location of the reported site, it is literally on the southern border of the Seattle city limits.

Side note: I received over 15 times more responses from people living in Seattle vs people living in Bellevue when I launched my original survey.

Income

We have already established that the NHL fans have the highest income levels of the big 4 Professional Sports Leagues. For income comparisons, I used IRS adjustable income reporting data from 2012 by zip code that I then consolidated into city. I filtered on how many IRS tax returns had an adjustable income of over 75K by city. This is not to say that the only people going to NHL games will be individuals/households that make over 75K a year but a large amount of Season Ticket holders will come from this income bracket.

Puget Sound IRS returns Map

Similar to the population levels, Seattle has a significant amount of households with tax return Adjustable Income over $75K when comparing to Bellevue. However, when you add Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Sammamish, Issaquah and Newcastle, the number is much closer than the population number: Seattle has ~117,000 households to Eastside collective around ~100,000 households.

Distance

Seattle arena map

From a distance perspective, Bellevue and SoDo are somewhat of a wash. Yes, traffic won’t be great regardless of the route, but 10 Miles seems like a reasonable distance to travel to a game for either side of the lake. Certainly, there are more people working in downtown Seattle during the week, but there are obviously quite a few companies located on the Eastside, as well (Microsoft, T-Mobile, Costco, etc…). From downtown Seattle, Tukwila seems like a reasonable distance, even closer than Bellevue.

In a perfect world, a potential owner could obtain some data from a few NHL teams that show the distance traveled from season ticket holders & single game ticket purchases to analyze the viability of the three locations. If I had my pick, I would analyze San Jose, Colorado & Minnesota ticket sales by zip code.

Side note: 35% of respondents to one of my surveys over the summer, sited “Inconvenient Location” as the reason why they did not watch more WHL hockey game.

Here are a few distances for other NBA/NHL arenas:

Canadian Tire Center, home of the Ottawa Senators:

  • 16.6 Miles from downtown Ottawa

St. Paul MN, home of the Minnesota Wild:

  • 12.4 Miles from Minneapolis

The Palace at Auburn Hills, home of the Detroit Pistons:

  • 33 Miles from Detroit

Glendale AZ, home of the Arizona Coyotes:

  • 10 Miles from Phoenix
  • 21 Miles from Scottsdale
  • 27 Miles from Mesa

Sunrise FL, home of the Florida Panthers

  • Sunrise, FL is 31.2 Miles from Miami

 

On an unrelated note and a shameless plug, I am trying to get 100 people to donate $10 to the RMHC of Seattle just so I can donate $1500. Please consider donating

RMHC Hockey Challenge 2015

Once again I have the honor of playing in the Ronald McDonald House Hockey Challenge. This is an annual event put on by the Seattle Thunderbirds and the Ronald McDonald House of Western Washington and 1063679_100150506978_990452666_nAlaska. If you don’t know what the Ronald McDonald House is all about, you should. The Seattle Ronald McDonald House is a home-away-from-home for 700 families each year while their seriously ill child receives medical treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Some families stay for nights, some for months. The House is a warm, supportive and safe place during a very difficult time. Over the years I’ve met with families and discussed their stories and I can tell you it is one amazing charity that has a real impact on people’s lives.

The purpose of the Hockey Challenge is to raise money from the RMHC. This is one of the greatest hockey events we have in the area and I would like to get this great community involved. I am willing to match up to $1,000 of whatever is contributed in the next two weeks. As a bonus, if I can get over 100 donors, I will be putting in an additional $500. If I can get 100 people to put in just $10, I will match $1,500. Let’s make it happen.

The Hockey Challenge is held on February 21st at ShoWare Arena in conjunction with the Seattle Thunderbirds-Everett Silvertips game. After the Thunderbirds game, a group of all-stars will take the ice for a fun game between local celebrities, former Thunderbirds and some former NHLs. I will be one of the pylons in the all-star game watching the former NHLs skate circles around me.

Please help me out by contributing here:

http://rmhchockeychallenge.causevox.com/nhltoseattle-john

Just $10 dollars will go a long way

The Mayor and Commissioners

The Mayor of Seattle, Ed Murray, visited with Gary Bettman and Adam Silver on Monday to give them an update on the SoDo Arena. As you would expect, King5’s Chris Daniels was on it.

This is obviously great news. Although the Mayor has consistently said he would support the MOU/Arena project in its current form, there were questions about the willingness to support an NHL first scenario. Chris Daniels posted this the next day

These posts and articles from the Chris Daniels created a flurry of articles from the hockey press. There is nothing really new in these articles but here is a sample of some of the more credible ones: puckdaddy, hockey writers, sporting news. Geoff Baker from the Seattle Times covered the the NBA side of the story a little bit deeper. That side of the house is looking a little more pessimistic. The NBA commissioner made it clear that there would not be a team available (for relocation or expansion) in the current term of the MOU. I know Sonics fans don’t like to hear that but I am certain that if an NHL team is awarded to Seattle, the NBA will follow. 

Let’s review

The biggest takeaway from this news is that Murray is open to an NHL first scenario. This is great news but let’s not get carried away and get overly optimistic. A lot still needs to happen and an NHL first financial model will still need to be submitted and structured for the City, County, Hansen and potential NHL owner. No changes to the diagram posted in November.
NHLtoSeattleOpenItems