NHL’S MOVE INTO EMER­ALD CITY HAS US GREEN WITH ENVY

Vancouver Sun - - SPORTS - TOM MAYENKNECHT

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

ELAINE THOMP­SON/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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