How Tukwila Stacks Up

Full disclosure: This is somewhat recycled content but wanted to update some of the maps I have done with the news from yesterday.


As most of you know, the bulk of the population is located in Seattle and the East Side (Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Sammamish). The Tukwila site is roughly equal distance for the two locations. One clear advantage is the ability to tap into the Tacoma market (the third biggest city in Washington State).


Income Levels

Now population does not create a market itself. You need customers that fit the demographic and one of those core components is income. I have already established that NHL fans tend to be wealthier compared to other sports fans.  Similar to an approach I did a few months ago, I overlaid income levels by looking at tax returns by zip code. Below is a map of the # of returns that had an Adjusted Gross Income over $75,000.


Travel distance tolerance

As luck would have it, I conducted a survey about a month ago and asked the following question: If Seattle were to get an NHL team, how many miles would you be willing to travel (drive, public transit, etc.) to a game? To my surprise, a majority of respondents said they would travel over 15 miles (red box in dashboard below). Here is the break down by county:

DistanceDistance Proxies

Here are a few of the distances to some of the proxy arenas in the NHL and NBA.

Tukwila Site

  • 11 Miles from downtown Seattle.
  • 14 Miles from downtown Bellevue.
  • 23 Miles from downtown Tacoma.

Canadian Tire Center, home of the Ottawa Senators:

  • 16.6 Miles from downtown Ottawa

St. Paul MN, home of the Minnesota Wild:

  • 12.4 Miles from Minneapolis

The Palace at Auburn Hills, home of the Detroit Pistons:

  • 33 Miles from Detroit

Glendale AZ, home of the Arizona Coyotes:

  • 10 Miles from Phoenix
  • 21 Miles from Scottsdale
  • 27 Miles from Mesa

Sunrise FL, home of the Florida Panthers

  • Sunrise, FL is 31.2 Miles from Miami

On a personal note, I grew up going to Oakland A’s games, a lot of them. The distance we traveled seemed very reasonable. Traffic seemed bad but just something we lived with to go to games. I looked up the distance and it was 20 miles with a good stretch on the parking lot known as I-680. I did not live in San Francisco Area when the Sharks moved to San Jose but occasionally I would be visiting my family while the Sharks were in town and we would catch a game. That distance we would drive was 55 Miles. This just seemed like a normal distance to drive to watch a game.

Seattle Mayor Murray chimes in

Quick post this morning. I thought it was important to share this statement from Seattle Mayor Ed Murray. Great to see such a commitment from the Mayor’s office. It is going to get really noisy over the next couple months as I expect to hear from Chris Hansen and/or Victor Coleman over the next couple weeks as the Final EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) is published on or before May 7th.

If you have the time, I would recommend listening to yesterday’s Sin Bin with guest Chris Daniels and Brian Robinson.


(Sorry for the screen shot vs. embedded tweet. I was having issues with the picture of the actual statement being displayed correctly).

Tukwila plans start to emerge

As we have been hearing for a while now, Ray Bartozek is putting an alternative arena plan together in the Tukwila Area. Originally, the Tukwila site was thought to be at the Unified Grocers site just south of Boeing Field along the Light Rail line but based on Craig’s article, the site is off 405 in between the Family Fun Center and Southcenter Mall.

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.