When the NHL’s newest expansion team debuts in Seattle next year, local hockey fans will be able to get to and from the games free of charge. NHL Seattle announced an ambitious plan to provide free transit options for ticket holders in an effort to enhance fan experience and remain environmentally friendly.
The now-unnamed franchise will partner with the Seattle Monorail to offer subsidized transportation for all fans flocking to the team’s future arena for home games.
“We expect around 25% of fans to use public transit in our first year,” revealed Rob Johnson, vice president of transportation for NHL Seattle. “The use of public transit can become a unique part of the fan experience [including 90-second bursts of fun information] and will likely be the quickest and most reliable way to get to and from our games. It’s about a system which will both be efficient and build culture.”
Team officials recognize that for many locals, the Seattle Monorail is generally more appealing to tourists rather than busy commuters. There is a plan in place to turn the rail into a reliable, speedy transportation method for all travelers.
“The Monorail is generally thought of as a tourist attraction or ride,” said Lance Lopes, NHL Seattle executive vice president and general counsel. “We plan to re-introduce people to the idea that the Monorail is still what it was designed to be – high-speed transit. It’s an existing last-mile high-speed connection from downtown to the arena that any number of sports teams would love to have in their cities.”
Officials plot that monorail travel time to the team’s future arena from Westlake station will only take about five minutes. Travel time will be drastically cut for those coming from the Northgate neighborhood. That trip takes approximately 90 minutes to navigate traffic and area parking before walking through the arena doors. Using the light rail system, these travelers can make the trip in under 30 minutes.
NHL Seattle shared that this is the first phase in a three-part plan to introduce the franchise to the city. Information regarding how fans can access the public transit is forthcoming, with Johnson noting that there will be connections made between the NHL Seattle app and ORCA Next Generation, the app for the area’s transit fare system.
Only the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors have implemented similar travel programs, with Seattle’s proposed plan coming in line with the city’s ongoing environmental focus and increased urban travel over the past year.