The day after the NBA BOG vote….NHL to Seattle Answers

Quick note on the NBA Board of Governors vote to decline relocation of the Sacramento Kings and what this means to hockey. First, everyone should know that the Arena doesn’t get built without an NBA team committed to Seattle. With no Arena, the NHL will not be an option.

Here are some common questions I get on the ruling and figured an FAQ format might be a good way to address everything.

Why did the NBA decline relocation if the Hansen deal and Seattle market is better than Sacramento? It mostly comes down to a sense of loyalty for existing teams + the city of Sacramento is publically funding 300M arena vs. the 144M in public loan being offered in Seattle. The Seattle deal sets a bad precedent for future owners wanting to arenas in their home city. I should also point out, just because there is a higher deal for a team, doesn’t mean you can move a team. I know it doesn’t seem fair considering our History with the NBA, but the league should try to keep teams in their cities.

Can Hansen and Ballmer go get an NHL team instead? Technically yes but the MOU with the city would need to be reworked. More importantly, Hansen and I assume Ballmer have no desire to own an NHL team. At least that is what Hansen has said publically.

Can someone else get an NHL team to start building the Arena? doubtful. The deal with the City and Hansen/Ballmer group calls for an NBA team. Considering Hansen owns the land and he has all the Construction financing lined up the thought of them going forward with no guarantee of an NBA team seems highly unlikely.

What about NBA relocation? Relocation has been tossed around but I do not think it is an option. The NBA won’t come out and say this but they have a parity problem and it is speculated that it is a player pool issue. I can’t get into it here but it is because there is a limit on the number of tall people that tend to be good basketball players. This isn’t to say small people can’t succeed, it is just on average tall people dominate the NBA.

What’s next? That is the million or should I say $500Million question. Milwaukee is the next franchise with a target on their back and we will hear plenty of news about them in the next 8 months. They need a new arena and even if they do not intend to move them I am sure there will be a constant threat to move the team. This is how the game is played to get as much money out of cities as possible.

What happens if the Sacramento deal blows up? There are lawsuits, bonding issues and some EIS that could blow this thing up in Sacramento. It really won’t matter since the new owners will need to deal with it making relocation unlikely.

What about Levin’s plan in Bellevue?  Unfortunately, Levin needs to sit back and let Hansen/Ballmer thing play out before he can pursue his plan which is said to abandon some time ago. Even though Levin was ahead of Hansen, Hansen has all the momentum and Levin would be viewed as obstructing brining the Sonics back. Anything Levin does will probably need to be supported by Hansen to make sure he has public support.  

2013 NHL Attendance Numbers

Here is my 2013 wrap up report on NHL attendance…(The entire post is replicated over at I try to make that other site my posts that are non-Seattle centric…like this one but a get a ton of traffic here by people searching for “NHL attendance”.)

Following a trend that was spotted early in the year, Average Attendance ended up 2% which might not be that impressive for some but remember that a good portion of markets sell out every game which means that attendance can not increase for half the teams. There are only 15 teams with “Attendance Volatility” in 2011-2012 so only those 15 can really impact the overall numbers. Attendance was up 4% across those 15 teams. 6 of those 15 saw 5% increase year over year and 10 of them saw at least a modest increase over 1%. Only 2 of the 15 (Columbus and St. Louis) saw declines of 1% of more.

What is one of my posts without some graphs?

2013 Attendance Change

The more important metric is capacity % and sellout % by team. League all up

  • · As a whole, of the 720 Games in the Season this year, 491 of them were virtual sellouts.
  • · The LA Kings have joined the ranks of the season long sellout.
  • · Nashville & Tampa Bay sold out 20 and 21 of their 24 home games Not bad for the sunbelt/non-playoff teams.
  • · New Jersey had good numbers with 18 of 24 games being sold-out.

Here are how the rest of the teams sellout % look…

sellout% by team

One thing I enjoy doing is digging into some of the specifics. I isolated Columbus and the Islanders to see how their attendance over the Season as they were both in a battle to get into the playoffs. AS you can see and as expected, attendance increased as the season went on and games mattered more and more for getting into the playoffs.


Phoenix also saw attendance increase over the season. They had the 2nd biggest increase in average attendance for the year at 12%.


 And since I have the data, I isolated volatile teams only (which includes LA) to take a look at capacity by day of the week and month. As expected, Fridays and Saturday games draw the best and later in the season tends to do better. Note that January only includes a few games per team and I imagine fans were really starved for hockey hence the higher capacity % in January.

Capacity by Day of the week

Would love to hear your thoughts and if you have any special requests on ways to slice the data let me know.

NBA Relo Committee Recommendation a setback for bringing NHL to the area

No doubt, yesterday was a setback for our hopes in getting an NHL team to come to Seattle. We were not banking on the Coyotes as they seemed more of a pipe dream than reality. Reality is that we need that Arena built as soon as possible to see an NHL team here as soon as possible and the only way that happens in the current framework is to land an NBA team first.

For those that don’t know, the NBA Relocation committee recommended against the relocation of the Sacramento Kings to Seattle. The crash course on why that is important is that the only way an NHL team comes here is if there is a legitimate arena, the only way the SoDo arena gets built is if the city gets an NBA team. Several people have asked, why doesn’t the Hansen group buy an NHL team. Hansen isn’t interested in owning an NHL team. He is very supportive but it just isn’t his passion. So then why not someone else? Because the MOU is with the Hansen group and the City, Hansen owns all the land and with no guarantees of owning an NBA team in Seattle, it isn’t worth the risk for him.

There are still a few loose ends that need to be tied up like Hansen’s statement last night as well as the Finance committee did not issue a recommendation (on the Sale) which was expected last night. The Hansen Statement is interesting, we will need to see how this thing plays out. It could mean lawsuits but I doubt it. Litigation is probably not going to make the owners happy and if you are trying to get in the club, it’s best to behave. As far as the lack of a finance committee vote, this smells like some legal positioning by the league to avoid anti-trust claims. Basically they can say that Hansen can own the team for the price he offered but he just can’t move the team. How that will work, I have no clue. I don’t see how Hansen would own the Kings in Sacramento.signingphoto

One thing is for certain, I believe in Hansen. I love his transparency in buying the Kings with the intent on moving them. He has worked very hard with the City on a realistic sustainable plan with plenty of safeguards in place for the city. He will not quit here and Imagine there are several owners out there that would love to sell their team for what he has offered the Kings. Milwaukee, Memphis and Charlotte are the most likely teams that could be on the block.

As far as hockey scenarios, I wish there was a way the Coyotes could remain in Glendale but it seems like time is running out. I think it is likely that the Coyotes are headed to Quebec next season. I know I am in the minority here but I still believe someone could make the team successful in Glendale but it is going to be very challenging to convince anyone that it is a sound business model. I believe in the sport and I think an good owner can make it work. There is one scenario that I don’t think is farfetched. Gosbee-Leblanc purchase the Coyotes, negotiate a short term lease agreement and if they can’t make the $$$ work, move the team to Seattle. That will give time for the NBA thing to play out as well and get the arena going. Very speculative in nature but I don’t think it is that big of a stretch. If the Coyotes don’t come we are probably looking at expansion which might not be that bad either.


Update: Craig Morgan did an excellent piece that comments about the true cost of running the arena in Glendale. It is worth a read to understand the complexity of these things.