NHL’S MOVE INTO EMERALD CITY HAS US GREEN WITH ENVY
BULLS OF THE WEEK
There was no real estate in the business of sport hotter this week than the Emerald City. In what has been preordained for months, the NHL board of governors voted unanimously to welcome Seattle as its 32nd franchise on Tuesday.
Getting into Seattle now is a very good move by Gary Bettman and the NHL. Those questioning how viable an NHL market it will be haven’t been paying attention to how successful the even less traditional hockey market of Las Vegas has been in creating an instant success story in the Golden Knights.
Seattle is a bull market for sport, period. It boasts a metropolitan population of 3.89 million, but walks and talks like a market of at least six million.
That’s how strong the demographics are in the 12th largest media market in the U.S. As the global headquarters for Microsoft, Amazon, Expedia and countless other marquee technology brands, Seattle is arguably the richest sport market in North America. It’s certainly the home of the wealthiest concentration of young millennials in the world.
The affluent fan base and impressive list of corporate head offices such as Starbucks, Costco, Nordstrom, Alaska Airlines and Weyerhaeuser are two reasons Seattle will have no trouble upselling every premium club seat or luxury box at the soon-tobe-renovated KeyArena.
This coming Monday Night Football showcase at CenturyLink Field reflects that. When you watch Seattle host the Minnesota Vikings, ask yourself why the Seahawks get so much prime-time love from U.S. broadcasters with a disproportionately large number of appearances on Thursday, Sunday and Monday nights. The answer is every major U.S. advertiser wants to reach that hot, young market that makes up the Seahawks audience.
The NHL wanted to be in Seattle before the NBA facilitated the second coming of its SuperSonics. And make no mistake: The NBA will be back in Seattle within the next five years. If the Denver market of 2.88 million — and nowhere near as upwardly mobile — can support the NFL’s Denver Broncos, NBA’s Denver Nuggets, MLB’s Colorado Rockies, NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the Colorado Rapids of MLS, along with the NLL and varsity sports the way it does, Seattle will be no less likely to succeed with all five major leagues.
And if the new NHL franchise was not enough, within the same 24-hour time frame Seattle was also confirmed as one of eight inaugural XFL football markets. The startup XFL plans to kick off the week after Super Bowl LIV in 2020, playing out of CenturyLink Field.
BEARS OF THE WEEK
Notwithstanding how great the Seattle market is, especially for a TV-driven league like the second coming of the XFL, it’s one of seven mistakes Vince McMahon and company made on Wednesday.
St. Louis is the right call because the NFL left a hole in that market three years ago. But choosing seven NFL markets to go up against will prove to be a bearish move over the long term. Instead of going to Houston, they could have gone to San Antonio. Instead of becoming the third pro team in L.A., the XFL should have tagged San Diego. And instead of Seattle, why not Oakland? The Sport Market on TSN 1040 rates and debates the bulls and bears of sport business. Join Tom Mayenknecht Saturday from 7 to 11 a.m. for a behind-the-scenes look at the sport business stories that matter most to fans. Follow Tom Mayenknecht at: Twitter.com/TheSportMarket
Former NBA Seattle SuperSonics head coach Lenny Wilkens, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee were all smiles Wednesday at the groundbreaking for a renovated KeyArena, which is key to the NHL expanding to the city in 2021 with the NBA expected to follow.