SEATTLE -- NHL Seattle announced on Tuesday that free public transit to games via the Seattle Monorail will be included with season tickets and single-game tickets for fans looking to attend games at a reconstructed Seattle Center Arena.
Additionally, the group announced they will provide up to $7 million in funds for the improvement of the monorail system at Westlake Center to help increase the capacity and accessibility of the trains.
NHL Seattle becomes the first Seattle-based sports franchise and only the third professional sports organization in the U.S. to offer fully subsidized public transit as a benefit for fans, the team said in a press release announcing the initiative. Paying for fans who do not have a company sponsored ORCA card to use public transit helps increase access to games, while decreasing traffic congestion and its impact on the environment.
"Eight million riders enjoyed this system (last year). On a per-day basis, that would fill our arena three times. So this was a critical link between Seattle Center and downtown and it's going to become that again," NHL Seattle President and CEO Tod Leiweke said.
With the investment in Westlake Center, the monorail is expected to become streamlined and more capable of moving a greater number of people at a faster rate of service.
"The station improvements that are being outlined today will double system capacity, improve accessibility, and better connect the monorail to the regional transit network," Seattle Monorail Services General Manager Megan Ching said. "We can increase capacity be decreasing the train's dwell time in station. The changes will also improve connections to street level and to the downtown transit tunnel."
With the area's regional transit capabilities also continuing to improve over the coming years through the Sound Transit project, more capability will exist for fans to take public transit to downtown and then the free monorail service to the games.
"One thing we know in the transit industry is if you make it easy for people to use it, they use it," Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff said. "We just saw this year with the monorail just by making the monorail usable with an ORCA card they've seen user-ship grow by 20 percent."
The press release states:
-- Fans who ride the Monorail will be able to get from the Westlake station to the New Arena’s front door in about six minutes.
-- The Monorail can transport 25 percent of fans in the arena to Westlake Station in under 40 minutes.
-- Fans from Northgate should be able to get to the arena’s front door in under 30 minutes (14 minutes on light rail from Northgate to Westlake, 2 minutes upstairs to Monorail, 2 minutes on Monorail, 4 minutes to the arena’s front door).
Photo Credit: NHL Seattle President and CEO Tod Leiweke addresses reporters at the Seattle Monorail station at Seattle Center as the group announces its plan to fully subsidize public transit to games through the system. (photo by Curtis Crabtree / Sports Radio 950 KJR)