The second season in the history of Seattle Kraken hockey has arrived, and with that comes a new opportunity for the organization to dazzle its fans at home games. With COVID protocols now seemingly a thing of the past, a full season at Climate Pledge Arena under the belt, and a lot of the kinks of being a completely new franchise worked out, Seattle has a lot of new tricks up its sleeve for 2022-23.
We spoke with Kraken senior vice president of marketing, Katie Townsend, about some of the updates fans can expect.
“One thing we spent a lot of the offseason doing was listening,” Townsend said. “We heard from casual fans, season ticket members, people like [Sound Of Hockey] who are there every game. We did the same with our investor group and some of our corporate partners. And then we took all of that in May and June, and we were like, ‘Ok, what are the consistent findings, and now how do we act on them?’”
Here is what the organization has in store.
Revamped pre-game show
There will be a new pre-game show with new video, new ice projections, and new music. The updated show will also allot for 20-30 seconds of video focusing on a different individual player for each game. This will keep things a bit fresher than the show last year, which—although spectacular—did get repetitive by the end of the season. In all, there will be 25 different versions of the open, and Townsend says there are a lot of Easter eggs, which should make for new discoveries every time fans see the show.
Townsend says the new show, “Combines the story of our fans—you know, [fans] who, from Day 1—kind of embarked on this pretty brave journey to be like, ‘Yep, we’re gonna back this,’ with the idea of our players coming together, and then everyone together embodying the spirit of the Kraken.”
If you’re wondering about the neon tentacle that gets lowered from the rafters to mark the Kraken players’ entrance to the ice, it will still be used this season, but it will “appear in a slightly different way.”
“Hoist Your Colors,” an all new pre-third-period show
There will also be a new pre-third-period intro called “Hoist Your Colors.” The Kraken partnered with Bellingham’s famous electronic dance duo, Odesza, and filmed video all across Washington for this portion of the in-game presentation. During “Hoist Your Colors,” a large flag will be raised in the arena. “It combines that kind of nautical theme with the Pacific Northwest and with the Kraken.”
There will be several changes to the music heard by fans in the arena throughout a game night. From the jump, more consistent voices will be heard singing the national anthems.
“We heard that people generally like consistent anthem singers, so we did anthem auditions,” Townsend said. “So, we have Madison Stoneman and Tommie Burton will rotate throughout the games, and then hype nights and specialty nights, we’ll still have [other] people come in.”
During pre-game and intermissions, house bands were a popular and Seattle-centric touch in the inaugural season. House bands will be back this season, but in response to fans wanting to get to know more about the bands that were playing, the Kraken will move from one-off performances to a “residency program.” With this program, each band will play four or five games in a row, assuming the scheduling works out for that band. The first act to be featured will be King Youngblood, a Seattle-based alt-rock band.
Additionally, be on the lookout for a new Kraken-employed marching band debuting at Saturday’s home opener called “Red Alert,” named for the color of the eye in Seattle’s logo. The band will perform brief pre-game concerts at Seattle Center Armory, the plaza in front of Climate Pledge Arena, Alaska Airlines Atrium inside the arena, and then in different places in the concourses during games.
There will be bespoke Kraken-themed sea shanty music videos (perhaps featuring cameos by a few members of Sound Of Hockey?) with famed shanty singer David Coffin coming later in the season. Fans will also hear a new organist, Ben Wooley, tickling the keys for most games, though Rod Masters will still make some appearances.
Fans let the Kraken organization know they wanted to receive more free stuff on game nights. High on the list of most desired swag was bobblehead dolls, which the team was not able to give out in its inaugural season. “Bobbleheads take around four months to make,” Townsend explained. “So, for us last year, when we found out the team, when we found out the roster, and then not knowing who’s going to emerge as a star and a fan favorite, it wasn’t really an option for us.”
This season, in addition to a whole host of other giveaways, the team will have five bobblehead nights. Of the five, which will feature Yanni Gourde, Adam Larsson, Matty Beniers, Brandon Tanev, and Jordan Eberle, Townsend said her personal favorite is that of Larsson. Asked if the Larsson bobblehead will sport the defenseman’s trademark deep v-neck under shirt, Townsend said, “Maybe.”
Salmon toss update
The ceremonial yeeting of the plush salmon that became so popular during post-win “Three Stars” announcements last season will live on in 2022-23. But there will be a new fish thrown by the players.
This season, the Kraken worked with the Bristol Bay Native Corporation to develop the stuffed salmon. Now, it will be an Alaskan pink salmon, which is a smaller species and the most abundant of North America’s salmon species.
There is also hope the game ops department can find a way to get those salmon delivered deeper into the crowd, as most fish seemed to land within a couple rows of the glass last season.
Buoy the troll
Buoy, the team’s new troll mascot, has been very visible since he was introduced to the world on Oct. 2. He’s been at the Stocker Farms corn maze and Pike Place Market, he’s been doing school visits and other community engagement initiatives, and there’s a lot more to come on that front.
As for what Buoy will do during games, Townsend says we have only caught a glimpse of his antics. “Buoy will have different intermissions and different skits at TV timeouts that he will be doing, so [we are] working on those at the moment.”
Townsend also re-confirmed that Buoy will be able to skate on the ice during intermissions, and that there will be a new, larger t-shirt cannon utilized this season. The cannon Buoy used during his one preseason appearance was the smaller of the t-shirt cannons in the team’s t-shirt-launching arsenal.
Food and drink
New beer options
The price of beer inside Climate Pledge Arena was an unsurprisingly hot topic with fans last season. “We heard from fans,” Townsend said. “Lower-priced beers, but larger quantity. So, we’re introducing a $9.99 Miller High Life 16-ounce can, and then a $9.99 rotating craft beer, 16-ounce as well.” Bigger beers for less money is certainly something that we at Sound Of Hockey can get behind.
The new in-game beer offerings will be available at several locations throughout the arena, so these lower-priced options will not be difficult to locate.
Fans arriving early for weekend home games can also enjoy a cold college soda at a new Modelo-sponsored pre-game beer garden, which will be located inside the Seattle Center Armory.
New food options
There will be several new menu items available for purchase inside the arena, including a salmon chowder sourdough bowl, more options from Impossible Foods, and additional selections like a brisket sandwich at Mercer Street Mac & BBQ. More adventurous fans can also look forward to a special new offering; the peanut butter and jelly corndog.
Perhaps most notably, Lil Woody’s Burgers & Shakes is being replaced with Molly D Burgers. Named for Climate Pledge Arena’s executive chef, Molly Demers, Molly D Burgers will be its own concession stand, and the specialty burger there will be the quarter-pound Royal Ranch beef patty topped with cheddar, pickles, onion, and a secret sauce.
The team also hopes to help fans navigate more easily to the various food and beverage offerings. “One thing we learned is [we need] better maps,” Townsend said. “We’re going to try that on the [Kraken + Climate Pledge Arena mobile] app and around the arena so that people— we heard from some fans, like, ‘I only see the food options that are around me.’ And so, I think what I would encourage people to do is to look at that map and to go and explore the arena.”
Speaking of the Kraken + Climate Pledge Arena app, there will be updates to that this season too, as it will be more Kraken-focused than before. Last season, the app was designed with Climate Pledge Arena as the center of attention, with some Kraken info mixed in. This season, it will be a lot more Kraken centric and will also allow fans to stream live radio broadcasts of games in real time.
After receiving feedback about parking spaces being too tight at the arena garage, some spaces are being re-striped to make them wider. The team is also now partnered with a new garage in Pacific Place, which will be cheaper than garages around Climate Pledge Arena. Pacific Place is located downtown, but fans can park there and hop on the monorail to get to the game.
Additionally, there is a new option to valet bicycles, scooters, skateboards, and other personal forms of transportation right at the arena, and the popular free transit program for ticketholders is still available and redeemable through the mobile app.
A new “Heroes of the Deep” program was introduced during preseason, which will award $32,000 to charity at every single home game. “[It’s a] huge commitment on behalf of the ownership group, so people should look out for those stories, and also, if they have people that they want to nominate, they 100 percent should do that,” implored Townsend.
Finally, there is a new 50/50 raffle that was tested in preseason. Fans can buy tickets from raffle sellers around the concourses. One winner will take home half of each night’s pot, while the other half of the proceeds will benefit the One Roof Foundation.
The Kraken kick off their season Wednesday in Anaheim at 7PM Pacific. Their first home game, where many of these new endeavors will officially debut, will be Saturday at 7PM against the Vegas Golden Knights.
These are all great improvements. As a season ticket holder, I appreciate them. However, if we can’t enjoy the gameplay because there are no gate monitors to prevent people from clogging up aisles while the puck is in play, it’s all for naught. Please budget for gate monitors. This was a problem throughout Season 1 and is still a problem for the 2 pre-season games we have attended. It is quite literally more enjoyable (and much cheaper!) to watch at home where I can at least rewind if someone walks in front of the TV.
We are in section 109 and really have not had a problem with people moving about while puck is in play. Maybe let the people in power know where you sit as they might need to do some remedial education for the ushers there.
I’ve already seen an improvement from the pre-season games. We seem to have an usher dedicated to our aisle, but they don’t seem to be completely effective at keeping people from heading down the aisle during play. I’m calling on all aisle-seat patrons to help with this and simply refuse to stand up when this happens. It will make it easier for the usher to identify them, and you’re helping out most of the people in your row.
Just be careful, some fans are belligerent as well as ignorant. I had a guy get in my face and cuss me out in front of a kid sitting two seats away at a preseason game this year just because I told him I wasn’t getting up because the puck was in play.
Gate monitors that have a clue about hockey etiquette that don’t let people down in the middle of play would be helpful
We have an usher at our entrance but too often they are more focused on watching the game and standing in the accessible area than standing at the aisle entrance and doing their job.
I am on an aisle and just don’t stand anymore. I’m over having to apologize to my new friends behind me because the people in my row don’t care to observe hockey etiquette…the usher did a great job keeping people out but it’s the people leaving seats to go out (and up) that are problematic.
Do what every single new hockey venue does: educate your fans! “Please do not stand up or move about the arena while the puck is in play.” And have your ushers enforce no passing zones at the stairwell while the puck is in play.
Cannot agree enough that they could be playoff bound and I’d rather watch it on TV than deal with the incredibly frustrating and nearly NONSTOP people blocking the view all game, every game. Insane. And if you’re a hockey fan from out of town, beware what you’re about to experience. It’s like sitting on the floor of a nightclub.
The 50-50 and beer vendors need to come down the aisles.