BLOG | by Lance Fraenkel

Seattle’s got its NHL franchise. Is the city ready to support a hockey team?

So Seattle finally got its own NHL franchise last month. Its owners will be hoping to make the same kind of impact in its inaugural season as the league’s last new entrant – Las Vegas’ Golden Knights made it all the way to the Stanley Cup final this year.

It’s partly thanks to that success that according to ESPN, the Knights were third in the NHL overall last season on arena capacity percentage – running at 103% Sin City locals and visitors were ready to support a team!

So what kind of support can a Seattle franchise expect? Well, the data suggest that the city is ready for hockey.

Let’s take a look at Impression for the NHL among audiences in cities which are host to the top five best-supported hockey teams.

As you can see, even amongst some of the original hockey towns, Seattle holds its own and rates the NHL only slightly lower than some.  While it’s to be expected that sentiment towards the NHL in some of the places where teams are most beloved is higher, Seattleites are already pretty well disposed to the league.

And Seattle also does well compared to another city touted as a contender for an NHL franchise – Houston. Space City, after all has a valid claim – it’s the biggest metropolitan area without a franchise in all four major sports leagues.

Until recently, Seattle level-pegged with Houston on Impression toward the NHL but now easily out-performs it. But even before the new franchise was awarded, Seattleites recorded significantly higher Consideration for the NHL (“If money and time were no object, what events would you consider attending?”). On current scores, it’s three times higher.

With demand like that, it’s perhaps no wonder that Seattle got over the line first…so good luck to the Sockeyes, the Totems or whatever they end up being called!

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Lance joined SMG Insight in 2017 as Vice President for North America. Having previously worked for YouGov, Lance has over ten years’ experience in the market research products industry, beginning as an analyst within the consumer division and advancing to the role of Head of Client Management for North America. Lance has successfully developed talent and led large cross-functional teams, consulting with a broad range of clients including Google, NBC, VISA, Bank of America, Omnicom Media Group and Twitter. Lance is a graduate of New York’s Cornell University.


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