Starting in 2021-2022, Seattle will be host to the newest NHL expansion franchise. The announcement of this by league officials last year fulfilled a long-awaited vision for many hockey-hungry fans in the Pacific Northwest. The following are five factors that will play into the growth of the NHL in its newest market.
750,000 people live in the City of Seattle, while another 3 million live in the surrounding suburbs and nearby cities of Tacoma and Olympia. Only three NHL regions west of the Mississippi River carry a higher population than Seattle. It's important to note however, that the biggest market of Los Angeles has hockey fans split between the Kings and Ducks from nearby Anaheim. Greater LA is also home to two NBA clubs in the Clippers and Lakers, which cut into the market share of their two NHL franchises. The other two NHL cities in the western half of the country larger than Seattle are Phoenix and Dallas. Both of these markets also have NBA teams.
Lack of Season Overlap Between Existing Seattle Sports Teams
Many NHL markets share the winter season with teams of the NBA. Seattle's hockey team will be competing with the Seahawks for the first half of the season and the Mariners only when they make the postseason. From early February to April, the NHL will be the only major professional sports draw in Washington State.
Proximity to Vancouver
With only 110 miles between the two cities, it's inevitable that Seattle and Vancouver will become a new NHL rivalry. In spite of it likely taking a few seasons to reach the magnitude of Maple Leafs/Canadiens, both cities will see an increase in sellouts as Canucks' fans make the trip south to Seattle and the fans of the new team head north to watch their team play at Rogers Arena.
Isolation from Other NHL Markets
Besides Vancouver, the nearest NHL cities to Seattle are Calgary, Edmonton, and San Jose, all of which are more than 700 miles away. With this kind of isolation, the new team's fan base will not only cover Washington, but is likely to spill into the neighboring states of Oregon and Idaho while also drawing some Canucks' and Flames' fans currently living in Washington.
Abundance of Corporate Revenue
Seattle serves as the international headquarters for such prominent corporations as Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft, and Starbucks. Having these major players in modern business based in the local market will create high demand for the big-ticket club suites and luxury boxes for this new hockey team.
With Seattle's new NHL franchise set to drop the puck in October 2021, there are many outside factors that will help them score the goal of increasing revenue for the league and the club's owners. While a Stanley Cup may not come to Washington State in their first season, the people of the Pacific Northwest can be assured that their expansion team will be a welcome addition to Seattle for both economists and hockey fans.