As amazing as the success has been for the Vegas Golden Knights, Seattle could actually top Sin City’s efforts. Probably not on the ice, but definitely off it.
The Emerald City is vying to join the NHL as the 32nd franchise, with play to begin in 2020. Seattle’s KOMO TV cited a league source saying that approval could come on June 20 when the NHL Board of Governors meets. The meeting is scheduled to be held in Las Vegas.
If the board gives Oak View Group its approval, the Los Angeles-based ownership group can get to work on its plan for building a team and renovating the Key Arena, where the future team will play. In December, Seattle’s city council approved an $600 million arena renovation that would double the square footage of the former home of the Seattle Supersonics. That cost along with $650 million for the NHL expansion team fee, would have Oak View on the hook for $1.25 billion.
“I believe this is the best thing for the city of Seattle whoever you cheer for,” Council member Debora Juarez said at the time. She also noted that the agreement was forged “at little or no costs to the taxpayers.”
Easy Sell to Public
When Las Vegas was going through the process of securing the Golden Knights they had a season ticket drive that was deemed successful by owner, Bill Foley. He and his staff were looking for 10,000 deposits by the public. They got 14,000.
Seattle has more than doubled that amount and did it almost instantly. They announced they were going to have a similar campaign on March 1 and the response was stunning. They planned capacity is 17,000 and they had 10,000 reservations in 12 minutes. By the end of the day they had more than 33,000 people, just less than half had to be put on a waiting list.
“The response this morning was absolutely stunning,” Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke said at the time. “That’s the only word we could use to sell 25,000 season tickets and counting in a matter of hours shows what all of us knew – which is this is America’s great sports city.”
Team Name Still Issue
The only hiccup has been what to call the proposed hockey club. The rumored names have been met with resistance by the public. One internet betting site listed the odds on potential monikers and Emeralds was the favorite at 9/2. The Totems were next at 6/1 and the Raineers were third at 13/2. None of the top choices have been very popular with fans.
The city had a minor league hockey team from 1958 to 1975 called the Totems. It was a nod to the area’s Native American population, but some have called a totem pole an offensive symbol to the indigenous people.
The ownership group might want to avoid any controversy and could go with a different name as to not upset the NHL.
They are following a blueprint that executives with the Golden Knights used in regards to marketing and other aspects of setting up the team.
“I think AEG has been fantastic at the risk they took, the way they built it and the success they’ve had at selling it and booking it, and both they and MGM deserve the run they’re on,” Leiweke said.