The Seattle NHL expansion team announced Tuesday it will offer free public transit for all fans attending games at the New Arena at Seattle Center.
All season tickets and single game tickets for the team, which will begin play in the 2021-22 NHL season, will include fully subsidized public transit via ORCA, a regional transit pass card. Seattle will be the third professional sports team in the United States to offer this benefit for fans, joining the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors of the NBA.
"Paying for fans who don't have a company sponsored ORCA card to use public transit helps reduce traffic congestion and its impact on the environment," NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke said. "We are fortunate that our arena is in a wonderful, unique location that encourages us to think differently about how our fans get to and from games."
Rob Johnson, vice president of transportation for the team, said they expect about 25 percent of their fans to use public transportation to get to the games in the inaugural season.
"The use of public transit can become a unique part of the fan experience and will likely be the quickest and most reliable way to travel to the New Arena at Seattle Center," Johnson said. "It's about a system which will both be efficient and build culture."
The team also announced it will make a capital investment of up to $7 million for upgrades to Westlake station for the Seattle Center Monorail, including improved platforms, modernized ticketing and additional elevator access. Fans who ride the monorail will be able to get from the arena to downtown Seattle in six minutes.
"We are looking forward to this partnership and are thrilled about the commitment NHL Seattle has made to identify alternative ways to manage transportation," Megan Ching, general manager of Seattle Monorail Services said. "The introduction of ORCA at the Monorail has been very successful in helping people better access the system and make important connections to other transit systems. We believe the station improvements will further our mission to increase capacity, improve accessibility, and continue to make the monorail a great choice for people traveling between downtown and Seattle Center."
The New Arena at Seattle Center is expected to be completed by next summer.
Seattle, which was approved to become the NHL's 32nd team on Dec. 4, 2018, has to yet to announce a nickname for the team.
On Jan. 30, the team said "no announcement is imminent" for its nickname after rumors surfaced that the choice would be Kraken.
"At NHL Seattle, we are thrilled by the growing excitement about our team, and we can't wait to share every detail with our fans," the team said in a statement given to The Seattle Times. "However, we will not be commenting on any rumors. Please check our social channels for more updates."
The target date for a team announcement is the first quarter of this year.