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Seattle Tests NHL Fans, Fans Break the Internet

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Seattle Tests NHL Fans, Fans Break the Internet

Estimated Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Guys, let’s be honest. It must be awesome living in a city that’s getting an expansion team.

You know that feeling you get right before the draft? The sky seems bluer. Your Wheaties taste better. You can’t help but sing in the shower. All thanks to the little spark of optimism. That possibility of a couple of new players coming to town, and, maybe with it, a championship. You’ve got to love that feeling right?

OK now take that feeling, and multiply it by the size of an Imperial star destroyer (if you don’t know what that is, you’re not invited to my birthday party), and have that feeling last for months instead of weeks. Its the lead up to Christmas morning every single day! You’re getting a whole new sports team! The show is finally coming to your town! You’d have to feel like you just won the lottery, you and 704,000 of your closest friends.

Don’t believe me? Just ask the residents of Seattle, WA.

The Oak View Group, the group of billionaire investors looking to bring hockey to America’s most northwestern state, laid out a test for their potential fans. Give us 10,000 deposits of $500 and $1000 towards a future team’s season tickets. The online submissions opened at 10am on Thursday March 1st. Twelve minutes later, the Seattle fans said, in unison,

“Hold my beer.”

The Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker reported that by 10:12am, the 10,000 deposit goal had been reached, passed, and succinctly forgotten as the site registered 25,000 submissions in the first hour alone. That’s a deposit bought every .14 seconds. If only we all filed our taxes that fast. The traffic on Ticketmaster was so heavy during the first hours of sales that the site slowed, and at times even crashed.

“I think at one point, they told me we had between 50,000 and 60,000 people that were trying to get in,’’ said Oak View Group head Tim Leiweke. “It was crazy.’’

Hockey fever has clearly taken Seattle, and why not. Not only has the sport risen in popularity, but with the astounding run of first year team Las Vegas (41-17-5, 2nd place in the Western Conference), the warning that it will take an eternity for a new team to get up to speed seems ridiculous. With the NHL already confirming that the new team would receive favorable expansion draft rules comparable to the ones Las Vegas received, why couldn’t Seattle take the league by storm as well? Suddenly, the hope that your new team can not only compete, but contend with the big boys from day one is very real. And Seattle fans are making sure they don’t miss the moment.

“I think the NHL is surprised, very pleasantly surprised,’’ Leiweke said. “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.’’

To Leiweke’s point, this doesn’t mean a Seattle NHL franchise is a done deal. The league is very careful to do all of their homework before they invest in a city, and there is plenty more red tape and tests that the Oak View Group and Seattle itself will need to go through, namely the gathering of the expansion fee. That alone is tough, and that as well as the rest of the process could take several more years. But something tells me the fans up there aren’t too worried.

They just blasted a giant cannonball through the biggest test they’ve faced yet, and it seems to me they’re confident their passion will do the same thing to the next test. And they should feel that way. The fans there have a lot to be proud of.

Seattle already has a reputation as some of the loudest fans in football, so imagine that “12th Man” crowd bottled up inside an arena. Nowhere for that sound to go but down onto the ice. It could be special. And Seattle fans who rushed online at 10am sharp yesterday probably had thoughts about telling their kids how they were there from the beginning. When it all started. It gives me chills. That kind of caught in the moment passion is why we love sports, the moments when we are proud to call ourselves fans. Heck, they just broke the internet. It doesn’t get more pop-culture passionate that. And as diehard of a fan as I am for my home town and its hockey team, just for one day, this day, I wouldn’t mind being a hockey fan from Seattle, WA.

Wouldn’t you?

Michael is a Pittsburgh ex-pat living in NYC as a working bartender and semi working actor. He enjoys long walks down the Strip District, thinks yinz should go dawntawn 'inat, and knows that when you play Pittsburgh you play the whole city. But he's unbiased. I swear. Michael writes mostly hockey and football op eds for the Turf, but maybe soon he'll try his hand at covering horse racing or hot dog eating. Who knows. The sky's the limit.

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