Alaska Airlines has become the latest founding partner of NHL Seattle, the ice hockey league’s expansion franchise in the US city, with the deal including a significant naming rights component at its home arena.
The Seattle-headquartered company will serve as the team’s official airline, as well as a founding partner of NHL Seattle, the New Arena at Seattle Center and the franchise’s Northgate Ice Centre training base.
As a key element of the partnership, the New Arena at Seattle Center’s atrium will be named ‘Alaska Airlines Atrium’. The atrium is a 36,000 square-foot feature of the brand-new building, to be located on the south side of the New Arena.
It will serve as the main entrance for all events, featuring stories and images reflecting the Pacific Northwest and the travel opportunities within the region and across the world. The former KeyArena is currently undergoing a major $930m (€836.2m) renovation that is scheduled to be complete for summer 2021.
Alaska Airlines agreed its sponsorship deal with NHL Seattle and Oak View Group (OVG). Tim Leiweke, chief executive of OVG, told the Seattle Times newspaper that the atrium was designed as a largely stand-alone part of the new arena and the idea was to sell a separate naming rights package for it. This leaves the main arena naming rights contract still to be decided.
“We don’t put our name on the entire arena,” Natalie Bowman, Alaska Airlines’ managing director of marketing and advertising, added. “But by putting it on the front door and putting it in the lobby of the venue – we hope that it becomes the meeting place for everyone who’s going to attend the 300-plus events. So, ‘Meet me in the Alaska Airlines atrium’ is the vernacular that we’re hoping to create within the community.”
Symetra Life Insurance was named the inaugural founding partner and sponsor of Seattle’s expansion team back in June. The NHL Board of Governors unanimously approved adding Seattle as the league’s 32nd franchise in December 2018, with the as yet unnamed team set to join in 2021 instead of 2020 to allow enough time for arena renovations.
To accommodate the new team, the NHL will realign its two divisions in the Western Conference for the 2021-22 season. Seattle will play in the Pacific Division, home to its closest geographic rivals Vancouver, Calgary and San Jose, while the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division.