SEATTLE - Before it all starts, I owe this team a personal thank you.
The end game – the ultimate goal – has always been twofold: To bring an NHL team to Seattle and bring the Sonics back. These are issues I’ve been preaching seemingly forever, as proven by this rant 10 ½ years ago, when the Vancouver Canucks and Portland Trail Blazers were both in the playoffs at the same time.
"In a region this populated, we shouldn’t have to drive 150 miles to the north to experience playoff fever," our commentary on April 17, 2011 read. "We have every right to push for a new arena that will likely bring us not just one team, but two teams to this amazing city. NHL, NBA, or both, we’d be back where we belong."
As you’re well aware, I never agreed with the arena process, from the method, the location, the political alliances, nor the perspectives of the city council or the Port of Seattle.
But at the end of the day, none of that matters, because we’re halfway home: Hockey is here.
And to not acknowledge the fiery hoops that needed to be jumped through to get to this point, not to mention the estimated $1.2 billion dollars a redeveloped arena cost (in part because some thought the roof was a historical landmark and needed to be preserved, adding hundreds of millions to the final bill) would be incredibly unfair.
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JULY 21: A Seattle Kraken goalie's helmet adorns the venue during the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft at Gas Works Park on July 21, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. The Seattle Kraken is the National Hockey League's newest franchise and wi
Even when Seattle was – well, we’ll just say being "peak Seattle," both Oak View Group and the Kraken have risen to challenge, to appease seemingly everyone in our community.
From my perspective at least, it took the patience of a saint.
And that’s why the fruits of their labor should be celebrated. Their Northgate practice facility is called the Kraken Community Iceplex for a reason – as Leiweke likes to say – because "Community" is literally its middle name. It’s a franchise devoted to diversity, equity and inclusion and supporting community engagement and social impact.
And when it comes to the team itself, they involved local hockey fans every step of the way, methodical yet discerning in their rollout of their namesake and logo, sparing no details in establishing an identity that was uniquely Seattle.
You can’t ask for more than that.
It’s one of many reasons this Tuesday night will be so special, and why a good number of Kraken fans are making the trek here to witness history. Because even before we’re able to witness the capabilities of this team, it’s a franchise for which we can all be truly proud. They didn’t have to go the extra mile, but they clearly did every step of the way.
For that, I say thank you. Because it only generates confidence that the second half of our endgame will eventually come true. That the Sonics will come back someday soon.
And until then, the Kraken aren’t just some consolation prize.
They’re a brand new beacon of our city. One that represents the values that make Seattle one of a kind.
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