The forthcoming National Hockey League expansion team in Seattle will offer free public transit to fans intending to attend games at the new 17,300-seater Seattle Center Arena.
The aim is to save fans time and money, ease traffic congestion in the city, and help improve the environment.
The free-transit program is modeled on similar programs in place at both the Golden State Warriors’ Chase Center in San Francisco and the Phoenix Suns’ Talking Stick Resort Arena.
“We’re a very environmentally-focused city,” Rob Johnson, NHL Seattle’s vice president of transportation, told Fast Company. “One of the best ways for us to reduce our environmental footprint is to get people onto public transit and reduce the number of folks that are driving.”
The NHL Seattle app will work directly with ORCA Next Generation, the local transit system’s mobile app, to integrate its free pass system into that program.
NHL Seattle, as the unnamed team is currently called, is also taking a 50-per-cent stake in Seattle Monorail Services (SMS), which operates the Seattle Center Monorail. This $6m investment will lead to improvements at Westlake station including improved platforms, modernized electronic fare gates (making ORCA card use even easier), and additional elevator access.
The $930m Seattle Center Arena is scheduled to open in 2021, the same year NHL Seattle will enter the league.
Around 25 per cent of fans are expected to use public transit in the team’s first year, Johnson added. It is still to be determined if attendees to other events at the venue will receive the same transport benefits.
Symetra Life Insurance was named the inaugural founding partner and sponsor of the team in June 2019. Alaska Airlines will serve as the team’s official airline, as well as a founding partner of NHL Seattle, the Seattle Center Arena, and the franchise’s Northgate Ice Centre training base.