Season Ticket Drive Thoughts

There is not a day that goes by that people don’t ask me about the season ticket drive. People hit me up on social media, text, email, and just about every hockey friend I run into asks me about it. I love that Seattle hockey fans are so excited about the possibility of an NHL hockey team coming to town. Let me share with you all the information that I DO know about the season ticket drive.

In a nutshell, I don’t know much on the ticket drive since not much has been announced since the league and city’s announcement on December 7th. What I do know is based on a combination of listening to everything that is being said publicly by people in the know, leveraging data and observed behavior of Vegas. I figured I would summarize my thoughts and findings here:

When will the season ticket drive launch?

No official timeline has been announced from OVG. Based on comments from last Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada, it would appear they want to put the Executive staff in place before finalizing and publishing any ticket drive timeline. That sounds like a February launch, but again, nothing official. I’ve been suggesting people to sign up for the NHLtoSeattle newsletter here. I don’t use it a lot, but intend to send out ticket drive details as more information is known.

Pricing & Down payment

Another hot topic is how much the tickets will cost. There has been no reporting or speculation on that…so let’s speculate. For starters, let’s look at tickets prices in Seattle for the NFL and MLB to get an idea on how Seattle stacks up as a sports ticketing market. The chart below plots the average ticket price by league and team.

NFL-MLB

As you can tell, Seattle as a market is right at the league median ($30 for MLB. $92 for the NFL). As a starting point, we might be able to anticipate Seattle’s NHL Ticket prices to be around the NHL median so now let’s look at the NHL ticket prices.

NHLticketprices

The median of the average ticket price is around $73 but as you can see, I teased out the Golden Knights to see how they compare as a first-year franchise with one of the smaller venues in the league. (The redeveloped Seattle Center arena will have close to the same capacity). Obviously, ticket prices will vary based on where you sit in the arena and as a good rule of thumb, I tend to think lower bowl between the blue lines could be double the average ticket price ($150 to $178), while upper deck could be half the average ($36 – $44).
As far as down payment or “pledge”, Vegas Golden Knights required a 10% commitment of the value of the season ticket package. This was refundable if the league chose not to expand to Vegas. I would anticipate something similar, so depending on your price point, multiply ticket price by the 44 games and then 10% of that would be your down payment.

Is there a sales target?

“Vegas wants hockey” was the Golden Knights ticket drive campaign. They had a stated goal of 10,000 season ticket holders when the campaign launched. To date there has been no reference to a goal for Seattle’s ticket drive. If there is one, I expect it to be announced by the time the campaign launches. No matter what the goal, I am fairly confident we will hit and hit it quickly. According to research I saw from Scarborough  from 2015, there is over 70,000 people “interested” in NHL season tickets in Seattle.

My recommendations for interested season ticket holders:

  • Join my mailing list. Once I find out more about the ticket drive, I will communicate Facebook, Twitter, blog and email. I don’t want interested folks to miss out.
  • Plan your season ticket plan. If you are like me, I am looking at creating a season ticket group that will sit together for games. Start talking with friends to make sure they sign up around the same time. I imagine there will be a process for selecting your seats based on when you sign up. In order to sit with or near friends, you probably need to get in the same window. I’ve also been talking to friends about full seasons, half season etc. I am already looking forward on having a draft to determine who gets what games.
  • Budget and Save. We are 30ish months away from buying our inaugural season tickets. I am a planner, so I am already putting money aside into my “NHL in Seattle fund”. I am sure I will be buying a jersey and going through plenty of face paint in the first season.

Would love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

NHLtoSeattle 2017 News in Review

We entered 2017 without a whole lot going for us to bring the NHL to Seattle. SoDo Arena was largely dead and a lot of us where skeptical of a  potential redevelopment of KeyArena could accommodate a sheet of ice. If you want to see how gloom it looked at the end of 2016, take a look at my report card from last year. A lot has changed in 12 months….

Here is a timeline of activity over 2017:

January 17th – City of Seattle issues Request for Proposal (RFP) to redevelop KeyArena that could accommodate an NBA and NHL franchise. AEG and OVG are both expected to bid.
February 2nd – The SoDo group launches their PR campaign to counter the City’s efforts at KeyArena with an opinion piece in the Seattle Times from Russell Wilson.
February 4th – In out of town news, the Coyotes deal with ASU for a multi-sheet facility that would accommodate the Coyotes and Arizona State Sun Devils hockey is reported dead. (I am not a fan of relocation but I still pay attention to out of town news concerning fragile franchises.)
February 8th – The SoDo Group resubmits their application for Street Vacation.
February 10th – While speaking at a Sports Business Conference in Philadelphia, Bill Daly talks about Seattle and if a possible remodel of KeyArena could work for the NHL. 2012+NHL+Entry+Draft+Rounds+2+7+lyfx4JlSpv9l

“It would totally depend on the extent and substance of the renovations. Certainly, there’s been a lot of well-intended people who’ve wanted to build a new facility in Seattle, whether that’s a renovated KeyArena or an entirely new facility.
None of that has come to fruition, for whatever reason, so we’re not judging. But by the same token, it’s not something we can even get excited about unless and until something happens. And nothing has happened.”

March 16th – Tim Leiweke speaks to the Seattle times and among other things, says KeyArena remodel could be done in 3 years to accommodate the NBA and NHL. He also mentioned that an NHL team is more likely to come before NBA based on where the leagues are positioned. inside-Hockey
March 18th – a combined 14,162 people watch Junior hockey in the Seattle area. Both the Everett Silvertips (7,989) and Seattle Thunderbirds (6,173) had a home game.1512340_10153169894289145_4550175528159932028_n
March 26th – 100 years ago on this day, the Seattle Metropolitans became the first American team to win the Stanley Cup.
April 12th – As part of the responses to the KeyArena redevelopment RFP, both AEG and OVG name partners with hockey ties to their proposals. AEG added longtime rumored to be potential NHL Owner, Victor Coleman to group, while OVG adds Delaware North to their bid. Delaware North is owned by Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs. (James Dolan, Executive Chariman of MSG, was already part of OVG group.)
May 1st – Details of KeyArena redevelopment responses begin to circulate including endorsements by NBA and NHL executives.
May 9th – SoDo group continues their campaign against KeyArena. Hansen says KeyArena should be nitpicked like his proposal. outside
May 11th – Both OVG and AEG showcase their Arena proposals in an open house to the public at KEXP. This proved to be a nice opportunity for the public to interact with the two bidders to ask questions and provide feedback to the two bidders.
May 15th – The Seattle Thunderbirds claim their first WHL title in franchise history.
June 4th – After several days of speculation that the City of Seattle was leaning toward the OVG proposal, Seattle Partners (AEG) scorches the earth by issuing a statement saying they are pulling their bid.
June 7th – Mayors office selects OVG as primary negotiating party for KeyArena redevelopment.
On that same day, OVG announces an NHL ownership group have joined their proposal: David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer. In retrospect, this is probably the biggest indicators that we are primed to land an NHL team. 

July 20th – Reports that Houston Rockets owner, Les Alexander plans to sell the Rockets. Almost immediately, people start speculating it could mean that Houston could be the landing spot of the 32nd NHL franchise.
July 31st – Prospective NHL owner David Bonderman is spotted at Seattle City Hall.
September 5th – Houston Rockets owner, Les Alexander sells the Rockets to Tilman Fertitta for $2.2BillionKeyArena_SoDoGroup
September 7th – Just days before Memorandum of Understanding for KeyArena Remodel is expected to be delivered to Seattle City Council, the Sodo group proposes an alternative development plan for KeyArena. This would largely fall on deaf ears as a proposal that was not submitted in appropriate and legal channels.
September 12thMemorandum of Understanding is delivered to Seattle City Council with an intent to open October of 2020.
September 18th – OVG MOU continues to gain support from city council and the public at large.
October 11th – In an interview with CBS Houston, new Rockets owner, Tilman Fertitta says he is open to the NHL. “I would put an NHL team here tomorrow, but this one has got to work.”
November 7th – During an Seattle Civic Arenas committee meeting, Council Member Mike O’Brien mentions the timeline is designed to get an NHL team by the start of the 2020 season.
November 15th – Katie Strang from the Athletic reports that the Houston Rockets owner Tilman Feritta met with the NHL on the prospects of bringing an NHL team to Houston. Talks seem early but after seeing Vegas get a franchise before Seattle, fans start to worry a bit.
December 2nd – The national hockey media begins reporting that Seattle will be discussed at the NHL Board of Governors meeting should the City Council approve the MOU for KeyArena just 3 days before BOG meeting. It’s almost as if this was planned all along…hmmm.
December 4thSeattle City Council approves the Oak View Groups $660Million Memorandum of Understanding to redevelop KeyArena to a state of the are Arena that can accommodate the NHL and NBA.
December 7th – At the NHL Board of Governors meeting, the NHL agrees to “accept and consider Seattle expansion application.” Mayor 20171209
December 15th – Potential NHL owner, David Bonderman meets with new Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan.
December 29th – 710 ESPN declares the NHL’s formal interest in expanding to Seattle as the #1 Seattle sports story of 2017.

What do you got 2018?

Seattle City Council Approves Arena Plan

The Seattle City Council has approved the Key Arena redevelopment Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Oak View Group (OVG) today with a vote of 7-1. This is a MONUMENTAL milestone to bringing the NHL to Seattle. If you have been off the grid the last 6 months or just new here, OVG is planning a $600M remodel of Key Arena to make it a modern, world-class arena to attract the NHL and NBA. In addition, OVG has already named the potential NHL franchise owners: David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer.

inside-Hockey

What next?

 A change of tone from the league

To date, the NHL has dismissed the thought of another expansion process while the league sits at 31 teams (16 teams in the Eastern Conference and 15 in the Western Conference). Commissioner Bettman has stated multiple times that they are not going to expand for sake of symmetry. When there aren’t any potential expansion cities in the western part of North America, then the statement is a fair one. But with the approval of the MOU, I am now looking for a change of tone from the league on expansion. As Chris Johnston reported over the weekend, expansion is not formally on the agenda, but there is a strong feeling that “..the Oak View Group could have its $600M arena proposal approved by council to get things going.” Johnston continues “that will obviously get the attention of the NHL owners should that go through.” I expect to hear some timliewikeandgbacknowledgment of Seattle by the NHL through their approval to perform a season ticket drive to gauge the market or opening up the expansion process. This is what they did in 2015 prior to Vegas being approved for expansion. As a reminder, Las Vegas ran their ticket drive in February 2015, completed it in April 2015. The league then opened their expansion process in late June 2015, with the application due by mid-July. The actual Vegas expansion franchise was then approved in June 2016, pretty much a year after the process began.

From OVG

OVG still has plenty of work in front of them. Once the MOU is approved they will then need to continue down the Environmental Impact Study process as they drive toward obtaining all the necessary building permits. There are several long form agreements that they will need to be completed. We should expect to hear some news as all those items progress. I also expect to see more renderings of the Arena as OVG iterates the physical plan for inside and around the arena.

NHL Ownership Group

David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer have been the reported (potential) NHL Seattle franchise owners for the last 6 months, but they have been fairly silent in this entire process. This seems rather deliberate to avoid creating public pressures and to allow the NHL to conduct the order of events as they deem appropriate. If the league gives them a little longer leash, we could start seeing this NHL Seattle ownership group being a little more public. By comparison, well before the expansion process began, Bill Foley, owner of the Vegas Golden Knights, would often make public appearances and comments about his desire to bring a team to Las Vegas. So it may just be a matter of time before this group starts to be more public facing.

 

Seattle is ready for the NBA and NHL

From Brian Robinson and John Barr

Seattle’s rapid and inspiring growth over the last decade has placed our city atop many important lists. For example:

Even as we enjoy this unprecedented regional growth and the opportunities it has brought, we still find ourselves with another very dubious distinction: Seattle is the largest city in the United States without a winter professional sports franchise. It is long past time for this to change.

The City of Seattle is very close to formalizing an agreement with the Oak View Group (OVG) that would transform historic Key Arena into a world-class modern sports venue, paving the way for the return of the NBA and the introduction of an NHL team. The City Council will vote on a proposed memorandum of understanding (MOU) on December 4.

After years of waiting, Seattle sports fans, and countless businesses that will benefit from our new teams, should be ready to celebrate.

Why now?

 Seattle is an ideal location for an NHL franchise. It’s bigger than 15 of the current 31 cities with NHL teams. A Seattle franchise would also add geographical balance. The league’s recent expansion to Las Vegas leaves the NHL with 15 teams in the Western Conference, compared to 16 in the Eastern Conference.   Meanwhile, Seattle’s growing economy, and its strong basketball tradition, will ultimately call for a return of the NBA.

However, the commissioners of both the NHL and NBA have made it clear in their public statements that Seattle must build a world-class arena to house any prospective new franchises.

“I have no concern that the building proper won’t meet our requirements,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver told the Seattle Times in a recent interview, adding that serious discussions can’t begin until an arena gets built.  The article goes on to say that Silver wouldn’t bet against Leiweke getting something done. “He’s always delivered in all of my business dealings with him.”

Knowing that time is of the essence, OVG’s construction schedule will result in the new building opening in October of 2020.  And OVG’s rebuild would produce a facility capable of attracting the NBA when a franchise becomes available.

Why Seattle Center?

Seattle Center is a cherished historic showcase for our city. A new arena on the campus would fit the broader revitalization that city leaders have envisioned for many years. Along with Seattle Storm basketball, an NHL and NBA team will complement the vibrant music, theater, and performing arts events at Seattle Center, expanding the versatile spectrum of activity that reflects Seattle’s diverse community and lively culture. The OVG project has the support of surrounding communities and local government.  After years of conflict with potential arena neighbors it is exciting to see neighborhoods including Uptown, SLU, Queen Anne, and Belltown engaged in a thoughtful process aimed at building the community’s support and expectations into the revitalization of Seattle Center campus.

Why OVG?

 OVG is a world leader in the arena, sports and entertainment industries. Few people in the world possess the deep relationships across the NHL, the NBA, and the music industry that Tim Leiweke and his team bring to the table.  OVG’s point person in Seattle is Lance Lopes who has been in leadership roles with the Seahawks, Sounders and Huskies since 2001.  Lopes is a great leader for this effort who knows the Seattle sports landscape as well as anyone.

OVG has demonstrated the ability to deliver a world-class arena that will be successful for decades to come. Perhaps most importantly, OVG has proactively reached out to community members to build collaborative relationships. The OVG team in Seattle has hosted and attended several public events to hear input and concerns of neighborhoods, Seattle Center tenants, labor unions, local businesses, fans, and other stakeholders.

Over the last decade, we have seen that building a world-class arena capable of bringing back the NBA and attracting the NHL is an incredibly difficult and complex task.  OVG has the expertise and business savvy required to work with the City’s multiple constituencies and address the specific needs of major sports leagues.

The OVG team is ready to take the first step toward restoring Seattle’s place among the ranks of great American sports towns. Fans of pro basketball and hockey should recognize this great opportunity and look forward to many nights of professional basketball and hockey in the years ahead.

-Brian Robinson and John Barr

Seattle Center Arena media coverage over the last week

Over the last week there was a lot of coverage on the Seattle Center Arena front…

Tim Leiweke profile in the Seattle Times

Last week, Geoff Baker had a great profile piece in the Seattle Times on Tim Leiweke. Baker goes into Leiweke’s deep and connected ties with both the NHL and the NBA. The piece is more about his NBA ties, but he does have this little reference about the NHL…

“It’s expected the NHL will grant Seattle a team if the city council next month approves a Memorandum of Understanding on OVG’s remodel.”

Check out the entire article here.

Councilmember Mike O’Brien’s comments

On Monday of this week, during a rather routine Seattle City Council meeting, King 5’s Chris Daniels caught this little nugget from Councilmember Mike O’Brien about the proposed Seattle Center Arena.

“Designed to deliver NHL team by 2020”
– Councilmember Mike O’Brien

Most of us have speculated that the new Seattle Center Arena opening date of October 2020 enables Seattle to be in the hunt for an NHL team.  The Councilmember’s comment is the first time we’ve heard it called out so directly. This is a great signal, but we have been down similar roads before. Let’s temper some enthusiasm until after the Seattle Center Arena MOU is executed.

Now, the root of the Councilmember’s comments is the desire for more time with the MOU which could delay the Seattle Center Arena vote a couple months. It remains to be seen if other Councilmembers would be willing to push it out for Councilmember O’Brien, but any delays could jeopardize the opening date of the arena and therefore the ability to obtain an NHL team. This would be a doomsday scenario as it would send a signal to the NHL that we still don’t have an arena; at which time the NHL might look somewhere else for their 32nd team.

The Wixey interview

Q13’s Bill Wixey, landed a sit-down interview with OVG owner and potential Seattle Center Arena developer, Tim Leiweke. The entire interview is fascinating with pretty much no topic off the table including traffic and mobility around Seattle Center, his relationship with the NHL and NBA, and how he views Seattle as a hockey market. There is even a hat tip to the Thunderbirds in the video. I found it refreshingly transparent and would highly recommend watching the entire video.

Here are some highlights:

~7:00   Leiweke talks NHL ownership group and Seattle as hockey market.

~22:00 Leiweke addresses the Sonics move and how he thinks it was the wrong decision.

~45:00 He talks the traffic challenges with Seattle Center and the plan to address some of those challenges.