‘Shell-shocked’: Seattle NHL ticket-drive success makes big impression

Sean Leahy
NBC Sports

The original goal of the Oak View Group was to hit 10,000 season ticket deposits sold as they started the process towards getting an NHL expansion franchise in Seattle by the 2020-21 season. The reaction from the fans was overwhelming, with 10,000 being sold in the first 12 minutes after the season-ticket drive opened on Thursday and 25,000 claimed in the first hour.

“Shell-shocked is best way to put it,” OVG Chief Executive Tim Leiweke told TSN. “Impressive,” was the one-word email response from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly to Seattle’s KING5.

[NHL Seattle season-ticket drive reaches 25K sold in one hour]

The drive, which saw fans put deposits down of $500 for general season tickets or $1,000 for lower-level center ice seats, will likely end sometime on Friday, as the number has reached nearly 29,000. KeyArena, which is set to underdo a $660 million renovation, holds 17,500 for hockey, so some who make a deposit will be put on a priority waitlist for full or partial tickets. OVG expects to contact fans by May about specific seat locations and pricing.

“I think the NHL is surprised, very pleasantly surprised,” Leiweke said via the Seattle Times. “And so I think they’re very happy. We still have work to do. But I think it sends a great message to the league and it’s what we’ve been telling them about Seattle. So, I think this is a great day for the league.”

Leiweke and his partners, billionaire David Bonderman and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, submitted a $10 million application for an expansion in February and will have to pony up another $650 million should the NHL approve a 32nd franchise, which could happen during June’s Board of Governor’s meeting.

“By June, Gary Bettman will look at us and say, ‘hey that’s a great market, we should be there,'” Bruckheimer said earlier this week.

Judging by Seattle’s immediate response to the chance of major league hockey returning to the city, it’s time to start working on your 2020 expansion mock drafts. There’s now no doubt that a 32nd franchise is coming.

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Sean Leahy is a writer forPro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line atphtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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