Great day to be a Seattle Hockey fan

As you have probably heard, the City Council officially approved the SoDo Arena deal. This is a major step on a long long road to landing an NHL franchise in Seattle. Focus on those positives.

….and don’t believe the hype around Edmonton. Edmonton Oilers owner, Daryl Katz was reported as touring Seattle KeyArena today. This is way way premature but the Oilers aren’t going anywhere. Here are the reasons:

1) NBA must come first. I expect this to be 6 months to a year out at best.

2) Edmonton has always had one of the top 10 teams for ticket revenue. To expect the same Arena Revenue here in Seattle would be ridiculous and won’t happen.

3) The Oilers have had total home attendance of 690,399 the last 6 years…that’s max capacity.

4) SeattleNHL team will have to pay more than current EDM deal on the table

5) The NHL cannot play in Key Arena…1 year maybe but that is a stretch.

6) We are talking about the Oilers!!!!

It’s a leverage play for Katz. This is part of the Arena subsidy playbook. (Mario in KC) Don’t believe it. The Katz tour has been getting a lot of airtime here as well. It’s not fair to the hockey fans here either.

Hang in there Edmonton!

Why the Islanders could be headed to Seattle in 2015-2016

On the surface, you would think the there is no way a team with a storied history like the New York Islanders could be a relocation target but when you peel back the layers you see a failing franchise with no relief to their Arena woes in sight. You see, the Islanders play in a dump of a stadium. It is the second oldest in the league (MSG) and the second smallest from a capacity stand point (behind Winnipeg). Although I don’t have the data on how they stack up for executive suites against the league but their 32 is about half the normal number of new arenas. I won’t get in a habit of quoting Gary Bettman but in his words: “I think it is clear, and I say this perhaps as a matter of observation, and as a matter of fact: There is probably no worse major-league facility right now in North America than the Nassau Coliseum.”

1) No arena plan in sight

Wang tried to use public funds to generate a new arena in the form of the Lighthouse project several years back but it ultimately rejected by voters. There is talk about another solution to keep the Islanders on the island but I would say that is very unlikely with nothing materially developing. You can read about that here. That is either a last stich effort to save some face with the fans on the island before he sells the team or moves them. He also needs to imply he has options to any perspective buyers.

2) Brooklyn & Kansas City are not options

In spite of what you might hear, Brooklyn is not an option. Although I haven’t seen definitively, there is numerous reports that says that they must remove 4,000 sites to accommodate the ice. Who knows how many views will still be obstructed. It is true that Wang is playing an Exhibition game in Brooklyn but he also played a game in Kansas City while he was pitching the Lighthouse project. That is something Neil deMause would call the no threat-threat and simply a leverage play. As Some of you might know, Kansas City does have an Arena that is ready for an NHL team but I believe the league is staying away from small market cities that cannot add value to the National TV coverage (KC is #31 vs. Seattle #14). You might here some talk about Queens but there is no arena in the cards right now but New York even subsidies the Yankees new stadium so that might not be out of the realm of possibility.

3) The timing could not be more perfect…well maybe a little

Hansen probably needs about a year or two to procure an NBA team and he has gone on record to say that it is probably best for the NHL to come a few years after the Basketball team citing challenges with Hockey in Key Arena. The lease with Nassau is up in the summer of 2015, although that might be a year too early I am sure that a year in the Key or Everett or Kent would be a small blip to get a team here. When it happens, it will happen quickly like the Thrashers sale and move.

4) Wang (probably) wants to sell

http://www.newsday.com/news/charles-wang-regrets-buying-islanders-1.1230247  (This is old and is behind a pay wall but you get the point) Since Wang has purchased the team it has been a failure on and off the ice. How many DiPietro jokes have you heard? OR what about this mess. According to Forbes, they are the second least valuable franchise on the market.

Quebec City could be the variable but the stars are aligning for the Islanders switching coasts.

Here are some other Islander articles of note:

http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/islanders/mangano-wang-want-new-islanders-arena-1.2869053

http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/bettman-still-time-for-deal-to-keep-isles-on-li-1.3751619?qr=1

Oh you Mariners never cease to surprise me….

The Mariners are at their obstructionist tactics again. They have sent another letter to the City council opposing the Arena. You can read the SeattlePIs article here or the deadspin article here. Both give a good overview of the situation. I don’t totally buy the deadspin theory but I know how lucrative RSNs can be so there is probably some cred to it, I just don’t think the Mariners could pull it off with the dwindling fan base and poor product they are putting on the field the last 5+ years. As you may or may not know, the Mariners first came out against the SoDo Arena in April because of the congestion. In their terms, “the SoDo site simply doesn’t work” which is interesting because the Mariners average ~22K a game and 10 years ago averaged 43,000 per game and those games are played off season from Basketball and Hockey but you knew that already. I’ve been a little jaded on the Mariners since the April letter. See my graph on my projected spend at Mariners games that I sent to fancare@mariners.com in April:

$ numbers were based on the number of guests that I would drag to the game with me. (Spouse, Sister+Fam visiting from out of town and any friends that might enjoy a game). You see I used to be a big baseball fan and still like going to games from time to time but in the last 15 years I have shifted to hockey. I have been true to my word and have turned down 4 sets of tickets and have no desire to visit safeco anytime soon. For the most part, I really support all sports teams but more importantly, I support the fans options of seeing them. If you are a Sonics, Storm, Mariners or Seahawks fan I support you. I have no desire to prove to you which team or sport is better than the other. You are a fan and you have your reasons…as do I.

Coincidentally, I’ve been in Chicago since Tuesday morning and last night I took in my first White Sox game. I was walking through the stadium and I couldn’t help to notice the support for other sports teams in the Chicago area. So back to Chicago. I snapped these photos right about 15 minutes before the game. This was completely coincidental to the letter because at the time I snapped the photos, I wasn’t even aware of the letter at the time.

  

Mariners, take note! This is how other cities sports teams work together and collaborate. It is supportive and complementary and their attendance figures don’t look like this:

I am not a sports executive but it seems to me that the Mariners should be doing everything they can to keep their dwindling fan base. It should be noted that the Mariners almost the exact same clause that the Hansen MOU has in it but keep in mind that the public paid for about 72% of the arena…vs. 0% of the SoDo Arena MOU.

Please let the Mariners know how you feel about their tactics and complete lack of support for the arena, Sonics, NHL and therefore us the fans. fancare@mariners.com

The big news…Seattle City Council reaches agreement with the Hansen Group

Obviously a little late to the party but I found out late monday night as I was leaving the rink and then I had to get on a flight 6 hours later so sorry for the delay.

I am not going to comment on the specific concessions made in the deal, you can read up on those here:
http://www.king5.com/news/arena/Hansen-Seattle-Council-reach-deal-on-financing-new-sports-arena-169272086.html

So what is next?

The City and County must both officially approve the MOU with the amendments. That will happen on the 24th of this month. Once that happens, Hansen can officially pursue and purchase an NBA team, the most likely being the Kings. Basketball is driving this bus there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind. The NBA Team must come first so it is really premature to think Coyotes could end up coming here even though the deal with the Jamison team is still up in the air

Hansen has mentioned that it is better for NHL to come a few years after the NBA and really could only play a season in Key Arena. I have an earlier post that talks about his remarks and a link to the radio interview here. As crazy as it might sound, the Islanders are the likely franchise to come here (if any) but the longer the Coyotes deal drags out it gives Hansen more time to pick up a team, the prerequisite for an ownership group to materialize.

It will probably be months before we hear anything on the NHL and Seattle so sit back and grab a beer on Chris:
http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/2012/09/with_arena_agreement_reached_c.php

The Port of Seattle in Pictures

I happen to be going for a bike ride last Thursday night and found myself right by the port at 6:15. The Seahawks had a game that same night that began at 7pm. Reported attendance was 66,000. Naturally, one would think this would be the worst scenario for the port and who knows how many jobs it would cost. I felt it necessary to post a few pics.

Well as you can tell, there wasn’t a single port worker, truck or otherwise to be seen. Coincidentally the only people I saw were to sets of tailgaters that have some private parking relationship, one in the Hanjin parking lot and another further south.
I will be sharing some of the photos with my city council.