When people ask me why Seattle will make a good market for the NHL, I often cite that Seattle is the 13 biggest TV market in the US and the second biggest market without a team. Or I might reference the strong corporate support we have here with big companies like Boeing, Amazon, Microsoft, Nordstrom, Costco, Starbucks or the countless mid-size tech companies like Expedia, Bungie, F5 Networks, Tableau Software, Zillow or Zuilily. There is also one of the largest adult hockey leagues in the US. I’ve already shown that Seattle has the 7th highest average income of the top 50 biggest metropolitan areas but I’ve always had an issue with the average. The disparity, wage gap or whatever else you want to call it, could distort that number….but over the weekend I was finally able to find some census data that I’ve been trying to find for a couple years.
Earlier this year, Nielsen published the Year in Sports Media Report: 2013. In it, there was a little profile on the NHL Fan Demographic.
53% of NHL Fans have a household income of over $75K a year. That number is the largest % in that bracket of all big 5 leagues. When business owners or potential business owners are looking to expand, they will look at these key figures to determine the potential of the market. According to the Census data, King and the surround counties, 63% of households have income over $75K a year. I then pulled data for a couple other metropolitan areas to see how we stack up.
This shows why most of the NHL brass is high on Seattle (if we can get that darn arena thing figured out). This does not mean that hockey will grip this city like the Sounders where their attendance is more than double the league average. It also speaks to the potential of the market and exposing hockey to people that might not get exposed to it any other way.
To be clear, I am not saying Las Vegas will not work. It is a totally different market and will be very unconventional. I simply do not know the business model and strategy of that owners for the market. Oklahoma City Thunder has been wildly successful being the first and only pro sports franchise in the area and Vegas might be able to pull off something similar. (OKC also benefits from a winning product on the court which will help any market.)
Disclosures on how I collected the data:
Long story short, It was a tedious manual exercise. I pulled data by county that would be considered in market. Denver had several counties near by where Las Vegas only had one (Clark). To determine which counties to include, I based it on the biggest city in the county being 45 minutes from the City. I wish I could have pulled data for every NHL Team and every potential market but I simply did not have the time. If you have feedback, issues, questions or requests don’t hesitate to contact me or leave a comment here. Here is a list of the counties I used for each market.