The Seattle Kraken are beginning to set sail into their inaugural season. With the expansion draft coming up on July 21, the Kraken fan base will be eager to see what their future may hold. The city of Seattle has always had a notoriously good sports atmosphere around it. Whether it be the Seattle Seahawks and their “12th Man” in the crowd as they call it, or the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, the city has always had a strong sports presence.
Taking a look at the Seahawks and their 12th man in the crowd environment, the fan base has established themselves one of the premier NFL markets. When having such a notorious fan base, it can aid in pulling top-end players into the organization as it becomes a desired destination. The Seahawks organization has seen a lot of success over the past two decades, appearing in three Super Bowls (2005, 2013, 2014) and winning one of them in 2013.
Seattle’s 12th Man
The Seahawks fan base has not only seen their football team win a championship as of late, but they also hold some records of their own. The fan base has twice broken the Guinness World Record for being the loudest crowd and generating the most noise at a single sporting event. The crowd first broke the record in 2013 recording an unbelievable 136.6 decibels in the stadium in a game against the San Francisco 49ers. In that same year, they went on to break their own record, dialing up a 137.6 crowd roar in the stadium.
The Seattle NFL fan base has shown, on many accounts, that they are a true fandom and not to be taken lightly. The Seahawks organization does have a slight advantage compared to most teams in the league who draw a smaller crowd. The state of Ohio alone has two teams in the league, making it a smaller group of people to draw fans from.
The Seattle fan base resides in the pacific northwest of the continent. The Seahawks have drawn crowds from the likes of states like Oregon, Montana, Idaho and even Alaska. On the Canadian side of the border, the organization draws fans from all of the west coast, whether it be British Columbia, Alberta or even Sasktchewan. The Kraken, however, will struggle to draw Canadian fans to be on their side, as the NHL already has teams in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg. Contrastively, that will still leave at least four large states to be on the side of the Kraken.
The Roar of The Thunderbirds
Taking a look at the current hockey team that already resides in Seattle, the Thunderbirds are another organization who has drawn overwhelming support by their sports crazed city. The WHL has been a major feeder into the NHL and AHL as well as many pro hockey leagues around the world. The Seattle fan base has been lucky enough to see some major players come through their organization like Mathew Barzal, Ethan Bear, Shea Theodore, and many other well known NHLers.
Having such success has also translated inside the city’s appreciation for the team. On average in the 2019-2020 (prior to COVID-19) season in the WHL, the attendance for a hockey game was 4,151 fans. During that season, the Thunderbirds crowd averaged a league-high 4,736 fans per game. This is not just a one-time occurrence either following a great season — the 2018-19 season the WHL averaged 4,368, and the Thunderbirds averaged 4,649. If you were to jump back even to the 2015-16 season, the WHL averaged 4,584 and the Thunderbirds still averaged 4,796. These numbers indicate the pure passion the city of Seattle has for their Thunderbirds.
The Kraken, as a new organization in the NHL, are going to attack the ice with some major disadvantages. The city is going into their inaugural year with a lot of unanswered questions. The team is going to be full of players who have likely never played with each other before at the NHL level. Furthermore, there will always be the question of the unknown regarding whether the organization drafted the right players, did they get the right goalie tandem, and are they set up to be a successful team in their early years. It’s a lot of uncertainty that the team will be forced to face. Although one thing will be for sure, when the Kraken hit the ice for the first time in history, they are going to have a passionate wave of Seattle sports fans right there behind them.
Carson MacRae is a member of The Hockey Writers, covering the Seattle Kraken expansion team. MacRae played just about every level of hockey including signing a minor pro deal. Unfortunately, he was not able to have a long professional career as he suffered an injury to his knee. Luckily, MacRae found a new love in writing about sports and used his education at the University of Guelph to further advance his skills. MacRae currently also writes for Ohio State’s football program apart of Rivals Sports and BuckeyeGrove.com providing insight to the programs current and future recruiting.