Commentary: Surreal weekend at new Seattle arena foreshadows even better things to come

What a special night – a special weekend it was – at the heart of Seattle Center.

The prevailing sentiment was simply, "This is not a dream. This is actually happening. What a cool moment for the fans of this city."

For me, it was a surreal moment, seeing a packed house, full of hockey fans in Kraken jerseys – especially since the very first sporting event I ever went to in Seattle was a sparsely attended T-Birds game at the old KeyArena close to 15 years ago! Understanding all of the trials and tribulations – the soap opera drama fans were dragged through during the political process, the construction delays, the pandemic – we truly felt the emotion when Kraken president Tod Leiweke belted out three simple words.


Goosebumps. That’s what mattered more than anything else.

You also know we’re officially a hockey town when commissioner Gary Bettman is booed when he takes the mic to begin the pregame program.  

Any other complaints or critiques, including those that I or others expressed last night, are somewhat irrelevant to the big picture.

Yes, it was an abomination that there was no American television broadcast of the game, other than streaming on ESPN-plus. That was out of the team’s control but there were enough curious potential viewers in our area who were shutout of that chance to witness history. 

And yes, as I mentioned on social media, the team did pretty much everything right before the game, from Bettman to Leiweke, to Ann Wilson from Heart singing the national anthem, to Sue Bird in a Kraken jersey getting the crowd going, but that ultimate "WOW" moment in terms of the presentation never came.

Arena developer Tim Leiweke responded, "Be patient. It’s coming. First night has to be about history." Which is certainly understandable, given the lack of time the production team had in a completed building and the quick turnaround from Coldplay.

Either way, that’s all small potatoes. These critiques are actually born from the high standard this team has already set with everything they’ve done to this point. 

There was a $1.2 billion investment – maybe even more – to go above and beyond. To give us a brand new state-of-the-art arena with all the bells and whistles that can also hopefully one day host an NBA team too. It’s a tribute to them that our expectations are so high! And most of those expectations have not only been met, but passed with flying colors.

Yes, the get-in price averaged $600 a ticket last night – so fans deserve their money’s worth. And hopefully everyone who was there feels like they did. 

But bottom line, we have a team. We have a gorgeous arena that gets really loud and shakes when the team scores goals. An arena built with a steep bowl to give the home team an advantage – prompting the Canucks’ Bo Horvat to say that "it feels like the fans are right on top of you." 

 In those terms, this is all so extraordinary.

 And after the saga that we’ve been through to get here – I’ll never lose sight of that fact.