Release the Kraken

This year is the first season for the Seattle Kraken; the 32nd team in the NHL.

And I am all in on it.

Well…..sort of……let me explain……

Three years ago Seattle was approved to remodel the old Key Arena (where the Sonics used to play) and create a state-of-the-art facility that can house concerts, NHL games, and NBA games. Two days later, the NHL approved Seattle to become the 32nd team of the NHL. Fix is in? Long story about this entire process and the controversies about it….explain in another post maybe.

Anyway, I thought this was really cool. Hockey is definitely the sport I know the least about of the Big 4, but I was game to learn about it and seeing Seattle become more prominent sports city in the US is always exciting for me. Also this team inspires a sense of ownership for people like me and my wife; transplants that get to usher in a brand new franchise and be goofy fans from the very start.

Two years ago, I joined a group at work to buy season tickets. There are 8 shares in the group, so the plan is 5 apiece. I bought 2 shares. The leader of the group called for tickets the opening minute over and over again until after about 10 minutes received a number in line; 5 minutes later all the numbers were gone.

Getting a number pretty much meant you were in line for season tickets, and over the course of the next 1.5 years, the information sent out by the Seattle NHL folks indicated as such.

Fourteen months ago we moved into a home that is literally a 10 minute walk to the arena.

One year ago it was announced the Seattle NHL team was to be called the Kraken….pretty much the best name of any team in all of sports. Then they showed the logo and gear, and the look was perfect for the name.

Ten months ago it was announced the arena will open on time in October 2021.

So far everything is coming up me.

But then…………….

Our ticket group got a call saying that we do not get season tickets for this first season, but maybe half a season. Later, the deal was maybe single games. Finally, the deal was ‘wait until next year’. Why is that? Well, no one really knows because no explanation was given, but I bet dimes to dollars that the folks with the sales team at the Kraken decided to allocate more tickets for the big spending corporations rather than the common fan. Yeah, great start huh.

Not to be deterred by this, my significant other and I decided to go to the first two games of the season (price was…..nevermind that). The arena was awesome! The atmosphere was intense and fun. However……we noticed that about 40% of the main concourse was dedicated to ‘premium’ ticket holders. How did we figure this out? Not because of any signage, I mean why put up signs, it is only the first game at this place ever. We found out because we naturally walked to these areas because it looked like they had some nice restaurants that were not available in other areas. And yes, we were not allowed in, despite spending a ton of money for our tickets. As a side note, hardly anyone was in there. Nice second step, huh.

Well, about 2 weeks into the season, the leader of our ticket group received a call at night from the Kraken people saying that there are a few seats that opened for season tickets. Why now? Explanation: these seats were just ‘found’ and were not factored in originally in the season ticket sales. What? So you are telling me that a 1.5 billion dollar arena did not account for every single seat? That is just a lie. I am pretty sure that the initial calculation of how much the Kraken franchise would get for selling those tickets to companies was waaay too high. In other words, Amazon or Microsoft or single ticket prices of $300+ per game for that section wasn’t doing it. So let’s just try to hawk these on the poor sacks that was in on things at day 1.

Why is this? Well, first off the team is waaay worse than expected. Seattle was afforded the same luxury as Vegas a few years in their team building; a great deal that allowed Vegas to build a Stanley Cup final team, which captured the excitement of the entire city of Las Vegas. Well, either the Kraken blew it or teams around the NHL got smarter, and now the Kraken, as a team predicted to at least make the playoffs, is now one of the worst teams around. Secondly, hockey is new here in the Puget Sound. One cannot expect the entire city to rally around a game which has no tradition to it yet. The owners, to their credit, have a done a ton of outreach programs in hopes of integrating the community. Practice facilities open for junior leagues, lessons on how to skate, and tons of ad campaigns aimed to capture the entire city and the metro area. These are the same PR people who worked with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and they are considered the greatest success story in all of the NHL, both on and off the ice. So the effort is there, but still may take some time. Finally, the prices are insane. For a franchise emphasizing community and trying to establish a new home, pricing out the tickets like this seems like such a cash grab.

So, did the poor sacks in my ticket group bite on this disingenuous offer?

We bit.

So now we are the proud owners of 8 games for this season.

To celebrate this, we bought jerseys, hats, toques, and all sorts of merch because, well, the name and logo are awesome and we are now (partial) season ticket holders. And yes, the arena is just right there…where I live.

We have gone to about 6 games and yes, they are a blast. I love the games and despite the team being a bit on the not-very-good side of things, there is nothing better in sports than live hockey.

I hope the NHL takes in Seattle. Right now all the games are a sellout but this is mainly due to the novelty of having a winter sport back in Seattle. Yes, the rating for their games on Root Tv are pretty good, but once again, novelty comes into play. As far as sports talk around the city, it is still all Russell Wilson/Pete Carrol drama and hardly a mention of the Kraken. I guess this is to be expected; the NFL rules all and here in Seattle, the Hawks have more power than the mayor. A better gauge on how much of an impact the Kraken really have will better be measured in February. I just hope the local media will take some time educating the public about the NHL and hype up the games as a sport and not just some circus act that is interesting just because it is new.

Hockey is awesome and I am learning so much why our friends to the North love this game so much. The regular season is way more interesting than anything the NBA puts out, and the MLB season is like a stream of consciousness that you can fade in and out of. I think the Seattle sports folks will come to realize this soon enough and be more like Nashville and Tampa instead of Atlanta and Miami. But we have to give it some time and some attention, even if the short term rewards are not there yet for the local media.

So yes Virginia, despite all the frustrating flaws and greed shown by the ownership this inaugural season, I am still all in.

Unless the Kraken give me shit about using their image…………..