On December 4, 2018, the NHL voted unanimously in favor of expansion at the league’s Board of Governors meeting in Georgia. Seattle’s newest sports franchise will begin to play at a later date. But, long after hockey left Seattle, other professional sports teams came and went. Some of the teams even pumped out some of the greatest athletes the city has ever seen.
And, with all of the history and beloved players, it’s regarded as one of the most underrated sports cities.
How Much Interest Is There?
Considering the city has a history with hockey, there’s a ton of interest! Seattle is home to the Mariners, Seahawks, Sounders, Storm, and Reign. Nevertheless, the Emerald City has been hungry for another major professional sports franchise since the Sonics left town. The season ticket drive for the 32nd NHL franchise hit 10,000 deposits in a 12-minute span.
When Vegas held their season ticket drive, it took them two months to reach 14,000 deposits.
What’s The Team Name?
There is no official team name yet. And, details in regards to the team’s name, logo, and color scheme remain unknown. Of course, there will be plenty of time for those rumors and announcements to unfold over the next couple of years. But, it’s never too early to go to the drawing board and come up with something.
At this point, the frontrunner for a team seems to be the Metropolitans.
When Will They Begin Play?
It will take a few years for Seattle to begin play in the NHL. After the official announcement was made on December 4, 2018, the franchise will join the league starting with the 2021-2022 season. The ownership group was eager to begin play in 2020, but their dreams came crushing down.
It’s mostly due to setbacks in arena construction and renovations, as this will push their plans back by one year.
Where Abouts Will They Play?
The franchise will play at Key Arena. This was the previous home of the Seattle Supersonics from 1967 to 2008. Interestingly enough, Seattle approved a $700 million renovation of the arena. With the roof remaining untouched, a majority of the arena will almost be gutted to the core. The renovations will help keep it as a modern arena.
There will be a capacity of 17,400 for hockey, then it will expand to 18,600 for basketball.
How Will The Team Be Built?
Under the NHL’s current Expansion Draft format, Seattle will select one unprotected player from each of the league’s 31 other franchises. Seattle must selection 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goaltenders. Then, they have to have a minimum of 20 players under contract for the upcoming season. Each player must be selected with an aggregate value that is between 60-100%.
Lastly, they cannot buy out any player selected in the draft.
Will The NHL Have To Re-Align?
As mentioned before, Seattle is the NHL’s 32nd franchise. That means the league will be even with 16 teams in each conference. The league does plan to keep its current divisional structure, but with one minor change. Seattle will be placed in the Pacific Division whereas the Arizona Coyotes will get the boot.
Arizona will simply jump to the Central Division as soon as the 2021-2022 season begins play.
Who Will Own The Team?
The Seattle Hockey Partners are an ownership group that placed a $650 million bid to join the NHL. The group is led by billionaire business man, David Bonderman, who will serve as the majority owner. Movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Tod Leiweke will also serve as owners too.
Leiweke has served in major sports executive roles for nearly two decades, so he has a mind for the business. He will serve as the team president and CEO.
Tod Leiweke Has Experience Working In The NHL
Leiweke was the Chief Executive Officer of the Seattle Seahawks in 2003. The Missouri native was also the CEO of Vulcan Sports and Entertainment. Prior to that, he served as a president of the Minnesota Wild. In 2010, he was the minority owner of Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment for sports franchises in the Tampa Bay.
Tod’s younger brother, Tim, was the former president and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment.
Seattle Has A Long Hockey History
Seattle’s relationship to the sport goes back to the formation of the Seattle Metropolitans. They formed in 1915 with the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. In 1917, the Metropolitans became the first American-based team to hoist the Stanley Cup. However, the team folded in 1924 due to low attendance and arena owners not willing to renew the team’s lease.
In April 1974, Seattle was conditionally granted an NHL franchise. Seattle never came to fruition because of the Western League’s instability.
When The Metro’s Left, It Was Junior Hockey That Filled The Arena
First, the Kamloops Chiefs moved to the city in 1977 to play as the Breakers. In the then-Western Canada Hockey League, they eventually became the Thunderbirds in 1985. Just to the north, the Everett Silvertips joined the Thunderbirds in the WHL in 2003.
Interestingly enough, both franchises are two of the most stable teams in the league. And, the Thunderbirds enjoyed their success in 2017. They won their first Ed Chynoweth Cup against the Regina Pats.
Seattle Is More Than Just A History Of Hockey’s Past
The Seattle Sounders first arrived in 1974. The men’s soccer team played in Seattle until 1983 when the North American Soccer League collapsed due to overexpansion. But, the Sounders were brought back in 1994, playing in the USL First Division. The USL incarnation of the Sounders played its last season in 2008.
One year later, the Seattle Sounders FC began to play in Major League Soccer, winning their first MLS Cup in 2016.
Meanwhile, The Seattle Reign FC Was One Of The Inaugural Teams For Its League
Founded in 2012, team owner, Bill Predmore, was accepted into a new women’s professional soccer league. The Reign became one of the first eight inaugural teams to be members of the National Women’s Soccer League. Surprisingly, the team had a strong start, in large part due to head coach Laura Harvey.
The former soccer player-turned-coach was responsible for guiding the team to two consecutive NWSL Shield wins in 2014 and 2015.
The Seattle Storm Arrived In 2000 And Have Qualified For The Playoffs In 12 Of Its 17 Years Of Existence
The franchise has since become the home to many high-talented players, including UConn stars Sue Bird, Swin Cash, and Breanna Stewart. In 2004, 2010, and 2018, the Storm reached the WBNA Finals. They’ve won all three times, beating the Sun in 2004, the Dream in 2018, and the Mystics in 2018.
Of the teams that have been to the Finals, they are one of two who has never lost a Finals series.
So, What About The SuperSonics?
Seattle and the NBA have become an enigma of sorts. While Key Arena renovations are underway for the NHL’s 32nd franchise, there are talks about the return of the SuperSonics. It would seem as if the renovations would trigger a wave of momentum for basketball to return to the Emerald City.
Sadly, the answer is one that Sonics fans don’t want to hear. Seattle won’t be getting basketball back anytime soon.
The NBA Has No Plans For Expansion, For Now
While Seattle’s arena developments weren’t discussed at the board of governors meeting, something might be coming down the pipeline. According to ESPN, some prospective ownership groups that have met with NBA officials and have been told one thing. Expansion may not happen until 2025 at the earliest when a new TV deal can be negotiated.
Other than expansion, the only hope Seattle would have is for a current NBA team to relocate.
The Seahawks’ Fans Have Twice Set The Guinness World Record
Seahawks fans are collectively referred to as the “12th Man.” But, their fans are some of the most passionate ones in football. The fans have twice set the Guinness World Record for the loudest crowd noise at any sporting event. The first time, they registered 136.6 decibels during a game against the San Francisco 49ers.
The second record was broken a few months later with a then record-setting 137.6 decibels.
In 1977, The MLB Awarded Seattle With A New Franchise
After the legal matters of moving the Seattle Pilots to Milwaukee, Seattle was given a gift from baseball. The Seattle Mariners would begin to play in the Kingdome until mid-season 1999. However, the organization was somewhat of a disaster coming out of the gate. The M’s didn’t field a winning team until 1991. Then, their real success didn’t come to life until 1995.
That’s when they won their first division championship.
The Husky Football Team Has A Following That Ranks With The Major Pro Sports Teams In The Emerald City
Washington has won seventeen conference championships and seven Rose Bowls. The team has won two national titles in 1960 and in 1991. But, in 1991, the Huskies shared an NCAA Division I collegiate football championship. Washington had to share it with the Hurricanes of the University of Miami.
Washington is known as Quarterback U’s due to the long history of quarterbacks playing in the NFL that dates back to the days of Warren Moon.
Rugby Has Quite A Following Too!
In 2017, the Seattle Seawolves become one of the founding teams of the Major League Rugby Association. Just a year after being established in the new rugby league, the Seawolves pulled off another first. On July 7, 2018, the Seawolves defeated the Glendale Raptors to capture the first-ever MLR Championship Shield. Seattle will look to defend its title in the 2019 season.
Their home opener is a rematch against the Raptors on January 27, 2019.
The Most Important Athletes In Seattle Sports History
When it comes to debates of who’s the best of the best, there is no right answer. But, when it comes to a city like Seattle, there are a ton of magnificent athletes who have come and gone. These athletes not only made an impact, but they set the stage to establish a lasting legacy in pro sports in the Emerald City.
It’s pretty impactful considering the city has lost some notable luster, these athletes still come up in debate.
Steve Emtman Was The Most Defining Player On One Of The Most Dominant Sports Teams In History
In the modern era, no sports team dominated their opponents quite like the 1991 Huskies. Washington was so good, and it’s not hard to say that Emtman was the key to the defense.
The defensive lineman was a factor to a then-revolutionary attacking eight-man front defense. Oh, and if “swagger” was a term back then, Emtman certainly had that too. Not bad for someone who seemed to love to wreak havoc on the opposition.
Clint Dempsey Gave Further Validity That The Sounders Were The Crown Jewel Of The MLS
Dempsey signed a four-year $32 million deal with the Sounders in August 2013. The soccer star is tied with Fredy Montero for most franchise career goals scored. As soon as Dempsey arrived, the Sounders had taken the MLS by storm with their record-breaking crowds. However, luring Dempsey validated the franchise locally, nationally, and internationally.
This proved that the team’s on-field and in-stand success had staying power, appearing in back-to-back MLS Cups in 2016 and 2017.
Russell Wilson Played An Important Role For The City’s Lone Super Bowl Winner
From 2012-2016, Seattle fielded the “Legion of Boom.” Considering it will go down as one of the best defensive cores in football history, it was actually Wilson who carried the weight of the franchise. Any idea that Seattle could have accomplished what it did in those years with just anyone playing QB is false.
While all Seattle pro sports championships are worth celebrating, sadly, there’s only a few that come to mind.
Steve Largent Was Seattle’s First Homegrown Superstar
Largent wasn’t Seattle’s first pro superstar, but he was the first who made this city his own. He came to the Seahawks shortly after the franchise played their first game in 1976. In 1989, the wide receiver hung up the football cleats as the leading receiver in NFL history.
Among other records in his career, Largent is a seven-time All-Pro receiver. Plus, he helped the Seahawks become relevant almost immediately.
Ichiro Stablized The Mariner’s Franchise After Losing Three Superstars In Three Years
Ichiro arrived in 2001, two years after “The Kid” left, and one year after Alex Rodriguez left for Texas. The Japanese baseball star turned in one of the best seasons in team history.
The Mariners tied an MLB-record of 116 wins in his rookie campaign. Three years later in 2004, he set an MLB record with 262 hits in a season. Ichiro was a nightly reason to watch him for more than a decade.
Gary Payton & Shawn Kemp Propelled The Sonics To Their Best Run
Kemp was drafted in 1989, whereas Payton was drafted in 1990. The pair was drafted in order to revive another Seattle franchise. The team hit rock bottom following its 1979 championship run.
While they never won it all, the Sonics’ return to relevance in the early nineties helped big time and also helped bring in the money needed to renovate the Seattle Memorial Coliseum. That was going to solidify Seattle as a basketball team forever.
Edgar Martinez Was One Of The Mariner’s Most Consistent Hitters
Martinez was the one who hit the double to win the 1995 ALDS against the Yankees. And, he helped provide a final push for an approval of the building of Safeco Field. But, that’s not all Martinez did in the big leagues. He had an AL-best and career .312 batting average.
With seven All-Star appearances, five Silver Slugger Awards, and a two-time batting champion, Martinez is still waiting for the call to Cooperstown.
Sue Bird Proved That Pro Basketball Could Make It In Seattle
There should never be any doubt when it comes to Seattle’s passion for women’s basketball. The Storm got off to a rough start, going 16-48 in its first two seasons. But, the back-to-back No. 1 draft picks turned the team around. Lauren Jackson and Bird turned everything around for the Storm.
Eventually, the franchise would win its first WNBA title in 2004, securing the franchise’s place in Seattle sports history.
Lenny Wilkens Helped The Sonics Become Legitimate Contenders
The Hall of Famer was a player-turned-coach who had the biggest impact on the Sonics. After his playing days, he was hired in the 1977-78 season and turning the 5-17 team into a contender. That year, the Sonics marched all the way to Game 7 of the NBA Finals.
However, it wouldn’t be until the following season when the franchise would claim its first and only Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Ken Griffey Jr. Saved Baseball In Seattle
If there’s any athlete in Seattle’s sports history who altered the future of a franchise, it’s “The Kid.” After the Mariner’s drafted the outfielder in 1987, his arrival gave the team its first true calling. Eventually, Griffey became the city’s first true national figure people can look up to.
Despite missing much of the 1995 season, it was his playoff heroics that sealed the deal. Without the Hall of Famer, the M’s would be nowhere.