Bettman talks a little expansion in NYC presser

bettman_gary640I caught a bunch of comments on twitter from Gary Bettman’s press conference this morning in NYC. He talked quite a bit about Expansion and Seattle so I wanted to share for the folks that might not be on twitter or may have missed it. There could be some follow up articles on some of these points but for now I am going to embed some of the tweets of the coverage and give some commentary where necessary.

Expansion and Vegas

Nothing really new other than Bettman confirming what we heard from Scott Burnside earlier this week. If you want to take the Seattle optimist view, you can hope that Seattle is part of the “pursue it” conversation since Bettman has said that a ticket drive was not necessary in Seattle or Quebec.

Seattle Specifics

This is the most direct comment I have ever read or heard from Bettman on the opportunity for NHL in Seattle. We have known the NHL has wanted to be here but Bettman usually phrases things with “There is some interest…” or “we haven’t studied the market”.  It might not seem like much but this is progress.

Very consistent with what we have heard from Geoff Baker, Chris Daniels, the Mayor and the limited comments we have heard from the NHL. Hearing it all wrapped up together from the NHL is dare I say, encouraging. There are a couple things that can fall into place over the next 2 months. The Final Environmental Impact Study of the SoDo Arena due on May 7th. If Victor Coleman is still the NHL front man in that deal, we should expect to some of those details to emerge on getting the financing for an NHL first scenario. Additionally, the Tukwila (or Bellevue) plan could emerge to compete with the SoDo plan. SoDo still has some hurdles so whether it is a competing plan or a backup plan, I am all for it.

Get ready for a wild 60 days.

Market viability?

A few weeks ago, the American City Business Journal (ACBJ) published an article about the most viable sports markets to add a franchise. There methodology was based on US Bureau of Economic Analysis Total Personal Income (TPI) for 2013 and team revenue data and average ticket prices of pro and big 5 college teams sports teams.

(Note: I spent a lot of time looking into the B.E.A. website looking for the TPI data and could not find it anywhere. Additionally, ACBJ did not cite how they came up with the team revenue data and average ticket prices. There are several resources for ticket prices but they vary. The revenue has to be a total S.W.A.G. and probably from Forbes which is not very accurate.)

Long story short, they cited Houston as the best option for NHL expansion/relocation and that Seattle has borderline capacity. When I first read it, I thought it was interesting but not a great piece of analysis if I was looking at buying a $500 Million dollar business.


First, Houston is an interesting market. It is massive and there is a lot of money in that town. Texas is all about Football and even though the cross over of seasons is not that large, you would need to evaluate if they can get some of the attention and interest for hockey. I have always thought this about Houston so this report did not alter my opinion of it at all. This is a recycled report I did almost a year ago but you can see that Houston ranks high on the Top 40 US TV Markets and the Average Income of the Top 50 Metro areas. (Note that the Houston TV market is being served by Dallas Stars)


Where the report lost me was when I looked at Seattle comparable markets. I have generally listed Denver, Detroit and Minneapolis-St. Paul as our best comparable markets. They all have the 4 major leagues, Denver has an MLS team and MSP is getting one.

TPIShould we relocate the Minnesota Wild, Detroit Red Wings or Colorado Avalanche to Seattle? Of course not, which is why this report should be taken with a grain of salt. It is a data point and a pretty weak one.

Bottom line is that there is a lot more that goes into analyzing the viability of a market. The more I talk to pro sports executives, the more I hear, each market is different and comparing them all is next to impossible. How do you measure the impact of adding an NHL team to a underserved Major TV market like Seattle vs. adding a team in a small but fast growing city like Las Vegas? Or how can two NHL teams in the same market have the 3rd (Rangers) and 22nd (Islanders) most expensive ticket in the league. This is obviously complex and application of some broad stroke methodology like ACBJ did is borderline ridiculous. If you are still reading, check out this analysis I did in December.

NHL to Seattle Survey #3

Thanks for all of you that responded to the third NHLtoSeattle survey. Here are some of the more interesting points.

Location of Respondents

No surprise, a majority of responses came from the Greater Seattle Area with King County being the largest with over 50% of the responses.

Response by County

Purchasing Intent

If we isolate just the people that live in Washington State, the Purchasing intent is very strong with close to 30% of respondents saying they are interested in Season Tickets.

WA State

I then drilled into the surrounding counties for a bit to determine the distances and impacts on purchasing intent.

County Splits

Although smaller overall numbers, I was a little surprised about how many people were interested in Full Season Tickets from Kitsap County. Similar to Seahawks, the appetite for the NHL in Seattle is across the state as lots of folks indicated they will go to more than 5 games a year.

Getting to a Game

Based on the reported 3 Arena Options, I thought it would be interesting to see the preferred method of going to a game. (Note that respondents could select more than one)


The Drive rate did not surprise me but I was surprised about the Transit percentage being so high. For those that do not know, Seattle does not have the greatest Public Transit and is primarily Public Bus System. (We are working on it and the three reported arena options all have planed Light Rail system in close proximity).

Fun Questions

Now that we have a lot of the business questions out of the way, let’s drill into a few of the fun questions.

NHL Game

This next chart is one of my favorite pieces of data. It speaks well to just how fragmented our market is and I can’t wait for the day where our whole city is rallying behind one team.


I also asked who was going to win the Stanley Cup this year. (Keep in mind that I rolled this out in early April when the Bruins and Kings were still alive.)

Stanley CUp

Survey, Shirts & NHL Bracket Challenge

Just a quick note on some things going on right now.


I am once again conducting a survey and will be publishing the results in the next week or so. It is light weight and should take no more than 5 minutes to complete. Do me a solid and fill it out.


By popular demand, I’ve made a limited run of 4 different styles of NHLtoSeattle shirts. I wish I could give them away and BaseballTeeaimed to keep the costs as low as possible. If you are interested, you can order here.

Bracket Challenge

I have also created an “NHL to Seattle” League in the NHL’s Bracket Challenge. We did this last year and it was a lot of fun.


Canadian Hockey League Attendance Report

Since things have been pretty quiet on the NHL to Seattle front until we see the final EIS study, I figured I would put together a little regular season wrap up on the Canadian Hockey League.

OHL and the WHL were up year over year 2% and 1% respectively while the QMJHL was down 3%. Due to the wide range of arena sizes and roster changes, I don’t think there is much to be concerned about.   CHLmapandtotal

WHL by team


Nice post from Andy Eide in October on the turnaround expected at Price George. Good work to all of those involved.

OHL by team


QMJHL by team


Anyone heard of this Connor McDavid kid playing for the Erie Otters? Well he had quite a big impact on Attendance where ever he would go. Attendance was up over 20% when the Otters were in town. All but 2 OHL teams saw their attendance increase over the average when McDavid was in town. Here is a look at his impact on road attendance:


Teasing out the Washington and Oregon Teams


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.