More than 100 years has passed since a team from Seattle, the Metropolitans, was the first U.S. team to win a championship Stanley Cup, but the city has since been without an NHL team. In fact, the aging KeyArena was one of the reasons that the NBA's Seattle Supersonics flew to Oklahoma City in 2008 to become the Thunder, and so the city has been stuck with only two major sports franchises. But a group of investors wanted to change all that and so they put together an impressive plan to thoroughly renovate the arena in an effort to attract the NHL's 32nd franchise. And it worked.
Seattle is a large, growing metropolis, and the market for the new NHL franchise will likely encompass the entire northwest region. The potential for revenue is simply astounding, and after a successful brand extension into Las Vegas a few years ago, the professional hockey league was in the mood to make it an even 32 teams by expanding into an obviously under-served market. The team will probably be named using some form of fan input, and perhaps the old "Metropolitans" name will be given a chance. Play won't begin until 2021, so there is plenty of time for marketers to make the right brand decision.
The ownership group paid a very hefty franchise fee (which is shared across all teams except newby Las Vegas); and it is very likely that a really nice new facility coupled with a successful NHL franchise could also attract an NBA team, which would address a smaller market (Portland has the Trailblazers). Yet Seattle would likely be a more desirable location for one of the many teams that currently struggle to attract and keep enough fans. This sort of change can be very good for a franchise. The NBA already has an even 32 franchises and it is highly unlikely that it will want another round of expansion (which dilutes shared revenue and talent), especially with almost half the teams currently losing money.
Indeed big pro leagues should appreciate the opportunity for a new team to occupy a brand-new facility that wants more revenue by hosting more popular events. With the WNBA's popular Seattle Storm slated to be the arena's first tenant, the new Seattle Center Arena might end up being a pretty busy place.
Discussion: What factors do you think need to present for an NHL franchise to be successful? What do you think needs to happen for an NBA team to become interested in relocating to Seattle?
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