Starting an NHL franchise from scratch takes an incredible amount of work, from the names to the uniforms to the roster of the team itself. The Seattle Kraken have officially taken to the ice in the NHL with the franchise playing its first pre-season games this week, but the organization has been busy elsewhere, too.
Climate Pledge Arena will be where the Kraken's home games are played, but the team has also built a brand-new practice facility and we got an exclusive look. The aesthetics and finishes in the building are very cool, but there was also a larger purpose taken up by the Kraken.
"We felt that we needed, not only a practice facility for the team, but also a home for hockey in Seattle," said Lance Lopes, executive VP and general counsel for the Kraken. "Believe it or not, there were no rinks within the city's limits."
That may sound shocking, but given how expensive Seattle real estate is, that does make sense for a city that until right now did not have an NHL team (the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds play just south of the city in Kent, Washington).
Seattle real estate is still expensive – even more so than ever, really – which meant a big commitment from Kraken ownership in finding a spot near both a freeway and public transit, something highlighted by Lopes and echoed by the team's GM.
"Credit to our ownership, it would have been easy to put in one sheet of ice for the team, but they put in three to make it a community building where people could learn to skate or learn to play, or figure skate," said Ron Francis. "It's seven miles north of Climate Pledge and I haven't seen everybody else's, but I think I'm safe in saying it's the nicest practice facility in the league."
As Francis mentioned, Kraken Community Iceplex does indeed have three sheets of ice, not to mention an urgent care health center, 14 dressing rooms and a Starbucks. The coffee giant, famously born in the city, is the Kraken's community impact partner and helped choose the name (where was this logic when Jobing.com was negotiating with the Coyotes?).
And the Iceplex still has more on the horizon: the team is about one month away from opening a 300-person capacity bar and grill in the building with a hockey-centric theme and views into two of the three pads, including the team rink.
"We wanted to plant a flag," Lopes said. "We wanted the facility to serve as a beacon for hockey in Seattle."
And the early reviews have been positive.
"Even the change rooms are incredible and state-of-the-art," said Kraken goalie Philipp Grubauer. "It makes it fun to be here. As a player, this is an amazing facility."