Releasing the Kraken

An overview of Seattle’s new hockey team.


Art by Ria Maisano-Torres

In late 2018, the NHL announced the addition of a 32nd franchise, the Seattle Kraken. Since then, progress has been gradual, but the moment fans have been waiting for may not be far away.

Before the Kraken, Seattle’s original hockey team, the Metropolitans, was founded in 1915. After winning the Stanley Cup in 1917, the team dissolved in 1924. The Seattle Totems played in the Western Hockey League from 1944 to 1975. Further attempts were made to create another Seattle NHL team in 1974 and 1990, but they failed for various reasons, including lack of funding and interest. For the past few decades, the possibility of a new team was prevented by KeyArena, which wasn’t suitable for hockey.

In December 2017, the Seattle City Council approved plans to renovate KeyArena, reviving the hopes of hockey fans statewide. In February 2018, the Oak View Group, a sports entertainment company, filed an application for a Seattle NHL franchise. The team was unanimously approved by the NHL Board of Directors in December 2018. It was official: Seattle would be getting a new hockey team.

In July 2020, CEO Tod Leiweke announced the team name, along with the team logo and colors.

“The truth is, hockey’s always been here, a sleeping giant ready to be awoken,” Heidi Dettmer, vice president of marketing, said at the announcement event. “This city deserves a hockey club that’s as untamed as the sea herself.”

At long last, the Seattle Kraken was ready to emerge from the depths. Not from Puget Sound, but on the ice of Climate Pledge Arena.

The replacement for KeyArena, Climate Pledge Arena, is on track to break numerous records. According to the official Kraken website, the arena “is expected to be the first net zero carbon certified arena in the world and will harness the power of sports and entertainment to inspire change on the climate crises.” Its construction will include a variety of environmentally conscious measures, such as using reclaimed rainwater for the ice and operating on 100 percent renewable energy.

Estimated to cost over 900 million dollars, the arena will host NHL and WNBA games, as well as other events such as concerts. Amazon secured naming rights for the stadium, but decided instead to name it after their joint climate initiative with Global Optimism. ‘The Climate Pledge’ will require companies that sign on to operate with net zero carbon by 2040.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic caused delays in construction, the arena is still set to open in time for the Kraken’s first season in September 2021.

Recently, the team has been doing numerous community-related programs. In November, they sold 100 official autographed Kraken jerseys as a fundraiser for local ice rinks that are suffering due to the pandemic.

“We are intent on being good neighbors and part of a strong hockey and skating culture in this state,” Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke said. “Being good partners means pitching in to support the rinks in a time of need due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Kraken also presented a ‘Fansgiving’ cooking show featuring interviews with new team staff and recipe sharing. The event was hosted by team broadcaster Everett Fitzhugh, the first Black announcer in NHL history.

Overall, the team is working to build a strong fanbase and community, so when the time finally comes for the Kraken to hit the ice next year, Seattle will be there.