Once again I have the honor of playing in the Ronald McDonald House Hockey Challenge. This is an annual event put on by the Seattle Thunderbirds and the Ronald McDonald House of Western Washington and Alaska. If you don’t know what the Ronald McDonald House is all about, you should. The Seattle Ronald McDonald House is a home-away-from-home for 700 families each year while their seriously ill child receives medical treatment at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Some families stay for nights, some for months. The House is a warm, supportive and safe place during a very difficult time. Over the years I’ve met with families and discussed their stories and I can tell you it is one amazing charity that has a real impact on people’s lives.
The purpose of the Hockey Challenge is to raise money from the RMHC. This is the one time of year I ask for a little help. I am willing to match up to $1,000 of whatever is contributed in the next two weeks. As a bonus, if I can get over 100 donors, I will be putting in an additional $500. If I can get 100 people to put in just $10, I will match $1,500. Let’s make it happen.
The Hockey Challenge is held on February 27th at ShoWare Arena in conjunction with the Seattle Thunderbirds-Everett Silvertips game. After the Thunderbirds game, a group of all-stars will take the ice for a fun game between local celebrities, former Thunderbirds and some former NHLs. I will be one of the pylons in the all-star game watching the former NHLs skate circles around me.
Please help me out by contributing here at my fundraising page.
Just $10 dollars can go a long way.
There have been several items of interest posted over the last 5 days. Nothing too groundbreaking but if you want to make sure you are as current as possible, here is your Tuesday reading and listening material.
NHL to Seattle News:
- Craig Custance, Senior writer from ESPN the Magazine wrote this fair and balanced article on his trip to Seattle.
- Paul Rogers from our good friends at Sonics Rising then followed up with Craig to record this podcast to get a little more insight on Craig’s overall impressions.
- Seattle Times, Geoff Baker shared his thoughts KJR last week with the news that he broke on the 3 arena options.
- King 5 reporter, Chris Daniels, jumped on KJR yesterday afternoon to talk some Seattle NHL and Arena news.
Broader news on NHL expansion:
- In a little broader news, the Financial Post had this article on the impacts of the low Canadian Dollar on potential NHL Expansion.
- Las Vegas NHL Season ticket drive hits 7000 deposits. Tough to say if this is good or bad for Vegas but the momentum has certainly slowed since they hit 5000 in 24 hours.
Lastly, the two teams I put together for the RMHC hockey challenge raised over $40,000 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Western Washington. Big thanks to the Seattle Thunderbirds, players/fundraisers and all you great people that helped the cause.
In case you missed it, Gary Bettman mentioned Tukwila and Bellevue as potential sites for an NHL arena in the Seattle Area on a radio interview in Vancouver. Stick tap goes to Paul Rogers, from SonicsRising.com, for covering the news ahead of our more traditional media outlets. Geoff Baker from the Seattle Times then published this article with a lot more detail on the specific locations. As much as I love the SoDo location, it is great to see that Seattle’s dreams of landing an NHL team are not tied to any one plan. I breakdown the 3 locations by population, income, and driving distance.
Seattle has ~ 6 times the population base of Bellevue. It is worth pointing out that Seattle’s area (142 Sq Miles) is much larger than Bellevue’s (36 Sq Miles). For this reason, to get a fair comparison you could include Kirkland, Redmond, and Sammamish. If you combine those populations, the Bellevue area has ~325K compared to Seattle’s ~650K. The closest comparable NHL market could be Minneapolis-St. Paul. The city of Tukwila is much, much smaller, but based on the location of the reported site, it is literally on the southern border of the Seattle city limits.
Side note: I received over 15 times more responses from people living in Seattle vs people living in Bellevue when I launched my original survey.
We have already established that the NHL fans have the highest income levels of the big 4 Professional Sports Leagues. For income comparisons, I used IRS adjustable income reporting data from 2012 by zip code that I then consolidated into city. I filtered on how many IRS tax returns had an adjustable income of over 75K by city. This is not to say that the only people going to NHL games will be individuals/households that make over 75K a year but a large amount of Season Ticket holders will come from this income bracket.
Similar to the population levels, Seattle has a significant amount of households with tax return Adjustable Income over $75K when comparing to Bellevue. However, when you add Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Sammamish, Issaquah and Newcastle, the number is much closer than the population number: Seattle has ~117,000 households to Eastside collective around ~100,000 households.
From a distance perspective, Bellevue and SoDo are somewhat of a wash. Yes, traffic won’t be great regardless of the route, but 10 Miles seems like a reasonable distance to travel to a game for either side of the lake. Certainly, there are more people working in downtown Seattle during the week, but there are obviously quite a few companies located on the Eastside, as well (Microsoft, T-Mobile, Costco, etc…). From downtown Seattle, Tukwila seems like a reasonable distance, even closer than Bellevue.
In a perfect world, a potential owner could obtain some data from a few NHL teams that show the distance traveled from season ticket holders & single game ticket purchases to analyze the viability of the three locations. If I had my pick, I would analyze San Jose, Colorado & Minnesota ticket sales by zip code.
Side note: 35% of respondents to one of my surveys over the summer, sited “Inconvenient Location” as the reason why they did not watch more WHL hockey game.
Here are a few distances for other NBA/NHL arenas:
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 an unrelated note and a shameless plug, I am trying to get 100 people to donate $10 to the RMHC of Seattle just so I can donate $1500. Please consider donating
January 30th While sitting on a panel and speaking to students, the Winnipeg Jets Chairman says Seattle is a priority for the NHL via expansion or relocation. He also said Greater Toronto Area could probably hold 2 more teams & Quebec would be great, but neither are top priority for NHL. Separately, assistant GM to the Boston Celtics says the NBA expansion (in the US) is unlikely in 5 years. He later qualified the statement as his opinion and not based on any NBA HQ information.
February 1st David Stern retires. Seattle basketball fans rejoice.
February 3rd NHL Expansion talk begins to heat up. While talking to TVA Sports, Gary Bettman had some responses to expansion talk: “we aren’t there yet” “lots of places have expressed interest” “we are always listening”. (These would be common quotes over the reminder of the season).
February 12th New NBA commissioner Adam Silver clearly states there are no plans to expand.
February 13th NHL says Seattle would be a “good hockey market”. Two days later, Former Seattle Junior Hockey Player TJ Oshie wins a big Olympic game for US in a shootout against Russia.
February 26th A Seattle delegation of business folks plus city and county officials visit Vancouver and attend a Canucks game to learn more about what it would look like should Seattle land an NHL team.
March 17th The first reported delay of the current Environmental Impact Statement for the SoDo Arena. IMHO the EIS is not the long pole here but it is part of the process. The city will not kick in any financing without a team. http://www.king5.com/story/local/2014/12/29/13403682/ I posted this image on March 17th…sadly, not much has changed (except for the Ballmer thing).
March 18th Seattle City Council president, Tim Burgess states that they will not change the MOU (for a NHL first scenario) stating that the tax revenues would be 50% less. It is unclear how those numbers are calculated when the NHL has higher ticket prices and higher attendance than the NBA.
April 26th Seattle Times reports that Ray Bartoszek is looking at options since the SoDo site is tied so heavily to the NBA which doesn’t appear to be headed to Seattle anytime soon.
May 13th In one of the strongest signs of the NHL’s interest in Seattle, it is reported that Gary Bettman and Bill Daly met with City and County officials in Seattle. By all reports, it sounded like a disappointing meeting for the NHL brass as the arena situation was described as “unsettling” by Daly.
May 15th As a follow up to the NHL and mayor meeting, Victor Coleman and Jonathan Glaser emerge as a new ownership group vying for an NHL team in Seattle. Coleman and Glaser with in the meeting with the Mayor, Bettman and Daly. They appear to be the front runners for owning a team in Seattle.
May 29th Steve Ballmer starts the process of buying the Los Angeles Clippers. This should be seen as a neutral to slightly negative on Seattle’s pursuit of getting an NBA team.
June 2nd Prospective Seattle Supersonics owner and the man leading the SoDoArena, Chris Hansen sits down with Chris Daniels of King5 and says that an NHL first scenario would require a potential NHL owner to put in a combination of more money and more risk. (Sorry, link has changed since I originally posted).
June 9th Posted the results from the 1st NHL to Seattle Survey. ~35% of respondents in King, Pierce or Snohomish county say they would be season ticket holders.
June 10th Chris Hansen signs an option for more land in SoDo area near proposed Arena. It is speculated this was done to accommodate some of the EIS feedback received to accommodate more parking.
June 26th NHL Board of Governors meeting comes and goes with no expansion announcement.
July 31st Another reported delay in final EIS.
August 26th Report surfaces that the NHL will expand by 4 teams in 2017. NHL would come out to deny it and I had my doubts about the original source.
August 28th In an interview with KJR, Steve Ballmer says, “ there is a guy pushing hard for hockey (in Seattle)”. ~58 minute mark.
September 30th Chris Hansen submits final paper work for EIS.
October 24th Although rumored for months, the first legitimate report of Vegas being a potential NHL mark surfaces.
November 25th Sports Business Journal post their annual reader survey. 43% of readers think Seattle is the most viable market for an NHL team.
December 3rd I wrote this interesting post that sizes up the Seattle Market.
December 8th NHL gives approval to prospective NHL Vegas owners to begin season ticket drive. No other markets are mentioned.
That leaves us here…which is pretty much where we started the year.
In case you missed it, there were several photos of an empty arena during the Florida Panthers game last night. People quickly tagged me, mentioned me and emailed last night with references to moving the Panthers to Seattle. I get it, it looks bad and we knew this was coming based on announcements from the new owner in September.
As many of you know, I have never been a fan for relocation as most attendance drops are short term in view and usually tied to poor performance on the ice. So I quickly reminded people that it was not too long ago that the Penguins, Blackhawks and Bruins were all lagers in the attendance department.
Things look bad but don’t forget that 10 Seasons ago, the Panthers out drew PIT, CHI and BOS #GiveThemAChance
— NHLtoSeattle (@NHLtoSeattle) October 14, 2014
Yes it does look bad in Florida. Can they turn it around? I don’t know. Simply stating Hockey doesn’t work in Florida is ignoring a very successful franchise just 200 miles away. Travis Hughes from SBNation wrote a great piece on the matter yesterday, do check it out. As Travis points out, other than their magical run to the Cup Finals in 1996, success on the ice has been limited. There is only so long customers will pay for a poor product which is evident if you look at Boston, Chicago and Pittsburgh historical attendance. As several native Seattleites have pointed out, there were some really dark days in the Kingdome for both the Mariners and the Seahawks.
For those that don’t know, the Panthers were sold to a new owner, Vinnie Viola last year. He is trying to turn this franchise around so give him a chance.
In the first post on the 2nd Survey, we looked into the results of some of the Western Hockey League questions. For part 2, we will look at some of the professional sports questions that were asked as part of the survey. Keep in mind, solicitations for responses were primarily done via the NHLtoSeattle Facebook page. This certainly is not a random sample of Washington State residents. If you would like respond to the survey, I intend to keep it open here for a little longer.
An amazing 40% of folks that responded to the survey in Washington State went to an NHL game last year. I have been thinking about throwing out a challenge to the community to see if we can get someone from the Puget Sound to every hockey rink in the league. I had folks send me pics from Chicago, Florida and Phoenix last year, representing Seattle. Why not every rink?
Nothing to surprising and tough to really compare Mariners to Seahawks and Sounders considering there is so many more games for the Mariners. I also asked about UW Football (80% of people did not go to games) and UW Basketball (92% did not go to one game).
Not a local team but I asked how many Canucks games you went to last year. 20% of you went to at least one Canucks game.
Impressive but not surprising. I’ve gone to several Canucks games since I moved to the area. What is more impressive is that when you compare the immediately above numbers to the first graph I posted. The difference means that people are going to a bunch of NHL games outside of Vancouver. (I went to games in LA and Philly last year.)
There has been some discussion on dilution in the Seattle market but I’ve often argued there is very little crossover with Basketball so adding both the Sonics and an NHL team would not really cause the fan base to be split, it would actually be the perfect compliment. Tough to prove that out but this next question paints that picture a little better.
From a TV perspective, the people that responded to this survey, which are mostly NHL fans have more crossover into the NFL than any of the other pro sport. Hmmmm…so maybe the close to 1 Million people who flooded the streets of Seattle for the Super Bowl parade could be future NHL fans. It makes sense since the NHL has a lot in common with Football…minus the timeouts and setup time between plays.
What are your thoughts?