Seattle Storm on Planned New Arena
Dear Storm fans:
You've no doubt heard a lot about plans for a new arena in the SoDo area of Seattle to house new NBA and NHL franchises. What you haven't heard much about, though, is how those developments might affect your Seattle Storm. Let me begin by telling you that we are thrilled about the prospect of getting an NBA team back in Seattle. It was a dark day when the Sonics left and it will be a bright one when the NBA returns.
But what does all this mean to the future of the Storm? I want to give you, a strong supporter, a first-hand perspective on some of the issues that could impact us, including:
- Where the Storm will play long-term. Staying at KeyArena or moving to a new arena are both options.
- Lease terms. The terms of our lease, wherever we play, will directly impact the long-term viability of the Storm.
- Scheduling. The allocation of dates across multiple teams, and events, will greatly impact our fans, players and growth potential.
You'll be glad to know that the Storm ownership group and I have had positive conversations with members of the Seattle City Council and King County Council about these issues and our vision for Storm Basketball. Every member we've talked with has told us they recognize the value of the Storm and what professional women's basketball has brought to this city.
Like you, our elected leaders know that our team has woven itself into the fabric of this town. Like you, they want to see the Storm thrive. For more than a decade now, the Storm has been a stable and consistent presence offering our community affordable family entertainment, positive female role models and - last but not least - a winner. We are the only all-female owned franchise to win a championship in any major American sport.
As the negotiations continue, here are the guiding principles that those of us in the Storm family will continue to stress:
- The Seattle Storm wholeheartedly supports efforts to bring the NBA back to Seattle.
- The Storm plans to be a part of Seattle sports for many years to come. Any agreement for a new arena must promote the continued success of our WNBA franchise.
- The agreement must preserve the Storm's ability to continue to deliver a unique fan experience and value to our ticketholders.
We will keep you informed about how new developments might impact the Storm. We know that you will be there for us because the Storm has a great partnership with its fans.
If you have any questions, please contact us at Arena@StormBasketball.com. You can also stay informed by checking back here to StormBasketball.com.
We look forward to seeing you at KeyArena when the season resumes at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 16.
President & Chief Executive Officer
Storm Arena FAQ
1. How does the Storm feel about a new NBA franchise in Seattle?
The Seattle Storm wholeheartedly supports bringing back an NBA franchise to Seattle. Seattle is a great basketball town and an NBA team would amplify the overall enthusiasm for basketball. The NBA's return also provides us with an opportunity to re-establish a partnership with the NBA to promote professional basketball year-round in the Northwest and to strengthen positive impacts on our community, especially youth.
2. What would be the likely impact of a new arena on the Seattle Storm?
Whether to build a new arena for an NBA team is up to the owner and local elected officials. However the final arena decision plays out, it will definitely have an impact on the Storm and our existing home at KeyArena. There are potential pluses and minuses to the Storm should a new arena be built. Obviously, the Storm wants to capture the pluses and avoid the minuses.
The bottom line from the Storm's perspective is that any agreement for a new arena must enable the continued viability of the Storm.
All the parties have indicated to the Storm ownership group and management team that they recognize our stake in this issue and all have expressed support for the continued presence of the WNBA in Seattle.
3. Moving to a new arena sounds pretty cool. From the Storm's perspective, are there issues with doing that?
There are pros and cons to moving to a new arena in SoDo. Here are a few of them:
- Being in a new building alongside a new NBA franchise would bring excitement to the whole sport of basketball in the Northwest. We've been there before so we know first-hand how positive it can be.
- A new arena would allow for enhancements to the overall game-day experience.
- A great deal of a franchise's financial stability is linked to its lease. Revenue growth opportunities at a new arena would help ensure the stability of the Storm well into the future. But a new arena will likely result in higher costs too. There are multiple ways to get to a favorable lease for the Storm, but any deal we sign has to pencil out and allow for long-term growth and stability.
- Another potential issue is prioritization of scheduling. The new arena's management team will likely work to fill out the annual calendar around the NBA and NHL with concerts and other events. It's critical that we preserve a priority position in terms of dates in order to optimize revenues and audience development.
4. Why not just stay at the "Key"?
It's complicated. KeyArena is an aging facility with a backlog of maintenance and infrastructure issues. While KeyArena's operating revenues are in the black, the City of Seattle does not have enough funds in reserve to pay for needed capital improvements. Keeping the "Key" a competitive venue will take additional resources - whether a new arena is built in SoDo or not. The City has justifiable concerns that KeyArena as currently configured and utilized would not be able to compete with the new arena. The City may need to repurpose the KeyArena for other uses that don't include basketball.
5. Do you have a preference regarding staying at KeyArena or moving to a new arena?
Our priority is to secure favorable lease terms. Our guiding principle is that any agreement has to make sense financially, be good for our fans and promote the long-term stability of the Storm.
6. What is the Storm's current lease agreement at KeyArena?
Our current lease agreement with the City of Seattle runs through 2018.
7. Does Chris Hansen, the investor who wants to build the new arena, support the Storm?
The Storm ownership group and management team have every reason to believe that Chris is looking for an outcome that works for us, whether it is at the new arena or at the "Key." Our conversations with him have been positive and productive. He recently attended a Storm game with his daughter and other family members and they all enjoyed their experience. We've been encouraged that Chris and our elected officials at City Hall understand that keeping the Storm in Seattle is a good thing.
8. What if you can't get a favorable deal regarding KeyArena or a new arena?
The Storm's ownership group is committed to keeping the team in Seattle. We stand ready to work with all of our partners, and potential partners, to keep the Storm in Seattle and help it continue to grow into a profitable, thriving organization.
In just 12 years, the Storm has earned a loyal and growing following. It has local ownership with deep roots in the community. The owners have shown over and over again a strong commitment to the team and the community.
A professional sports team is a community asset. The success of any sports franchise requires the commitment of the ownership, the fans, the business community and local government.
9. How is the Storm doing financially?
The Storm is a stable financial organization that is on the path to profitability because of our success and support in Seattle.
There is no other professional sports team in Seattle history, men's or women's, that has ever matched the Storm's extraordinary record. Our franchise is at the top when it comes to sustained on-court success. The Storm has qualified for the WNBA Playoffs in eight of its 11 years and won two WNBA championships, first in 2004 and then again in 2010. The Storm is the only all-female owned franchise to win a championship in any major American sport.
In addition, the Storm's ownership group is committed to this franchise and has invested a great deal toward its success.
Most importantly, our success could not happen without our extremely loyal fan base. We have consistently been among the league leaders in attendance and our fans, especially our Season Ticket Holders, are recognized across the country as some of the most loyal and passionate in women's sports. We also have a growing list of corporate sponsors including Bing, Alaska Airlines, BECU, Carter Subaru, Group Health, Moss Adams, Pemco, Safeco, Seattle Goodwill, Seattle Children's Hospital, The Seattle Times, Tim's Chips, UPS, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Washington Dental Service, Washington State Nurses Association and many more.