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Seattle NHL Unveils Plan to Subsidize Public Transit

Seattle NHL Monorail rendering

Seattle NHL has announced plans to subsidize public transit costs for fans attending games at the upcoming Seattle Center arena, part of a unique transit strategy.

When it begins play as an expansion team in the 2021-22 NHL season, the yet-to-be-named Seattle squad will play home games at a venue currently being constructed at the old KeyArena. In a move that could ease traffic in the area and potentially add an incentive for fans to take mass transit to and from the arena, the NHL franchise is rolling out a plan that will include subsidized public transit.

As part of a plan announced on Tuesday, Seattle NHL will include a subsidized public transit pass via ORCA (our regional transit pass card) with season-ticket packages and single-game tickets. In addition, the club is partnering with Seattle Monorail Services (SMS)–the private company that operates the city-owned monorail system–to invest private capital into upgrades at Westlake Station. With monorail being pitched as a viable way to access the arena and about a quarter of the team’s fans expected to rely on public transit during its inaugural season, Seattle NHL believes it is implementing a plan that could improve the experience of getting to and from games. More from King 5:

The subsidized transit pass, which will be a part of season and single-game tickets, will be a first for a Seattle-based sports franchise and is believed to be a rare element in North American professional sports. NHL Seattle is only the third professional sports organization in the U.S. to offer a free public transit benefit for fans.

The Seattle Monorail can transport up to 325 people per trip. NHL Seattle said the train can transport 25 percent of the capacity of the new arena at Seattle Center in less than 40 minutes.

“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.”

“We expect around 25% of fans to use public transit in our first year,” said 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.”

The arena in which the NHL franchise will play is being constructed as part of a $930-million projected led and financed by Oak View Group, and is currently scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2021. Plans include digging 15 feet below the floor and widen the base of the venue, while leaving the KeyArena roof intact–yielding more interior space and modern facilities under the original roof.

Seattle NHL Monorail rendering

Renderings via Seattle Monorail Services.

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