Poll: How well would Seattle support an NHL team?
Fans of the NBA and NHL have to be thrilled with news that Chris Hansen's proposed arena in Seattle's Sodo District has passed two big hurdles - approval from the Seattle City Council and Metropolitan King County Council.
Everyone knows that NBA fans have been a visible force in supporting the arena, and that Hansen grew up a Sonics fan. But what about the NHL?
A story in Tuesday's editions raises the question of whether the Seattle region can support a major-league pro hockey team. There are no absolute answers, but some intriguing anecdotal and statistical evidence makes the case for success.
One number struck me as I was editing the story: That 9.2 percent of those polled in the Seattle region say they are very or somewhat interested in the NHL. That's not a huge number, by any means. But compare that to another number: Only 7.1 percent in our region said they were very or somewhat interested in MLS in 2004-2005 -- before Sounders FC's arrival.
We all know what happened with the Sounders. The soccer team has set MLS attendance records and became a model for franchises here and abroad. As a former Sounders (NASL) beat reporter, I'd like to say I saw that coming, but I didn't. Interest obviously has skyrocketed - with 17.2 percent of people in Seattle saying they are interested in the MLS. (Those numbers come from Scarborough, a research firm that surveyed people in Greater Seattle area, via Seattle Times ace news researcher Gene Balk).
One thing is indisputable: Seattle now is considered a soccer town.
Could it be a hockey town, too.
As detailed in Tuesday's article, two junior-hockey teams - the Seattle Thunderbirds and the Everett Silvertips draw well - and youth and adult leagues in the region are surprisingly robust, ranking high nationally. The Pacific Northwest also has a long, storied history of pro hockey - from the 1917 Seattle Metropolitans winning the Stanley Cup to the Vancouver Canucks of today's NHL.
So what do you think? Here's a poll on whether you think hockey would succeed here if the NHL comes to Seattle? Feel free to weigh in with your comments as well.