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The Joy of the Journey

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Sorry for my recent absence. As has become a tradition I’m celebrating a big milestone by taking some time off the issue, spending time with my family and getting caught up on business. I am having a good time savoring “the joy of the journey” as Tim Leiweke advised a year ago but am posting to Twitter occasionally if you want to give me a follow @206Empire.

The great news is that things are going just fine. The first of two teams is in hand and, as described in this article, both OVG and NHL Seattle are transitioning into new phases of the game. In a letter that I don’t think got as much attention or scrutiny as was warranted Tod Leiweke describes his approach:

”We will build a franchise that is by the Fan, of the Fan, and for the Fan. Our transcendent new arena and NHL team will be the most fan driven in all of sports. We will always be inspired by your epic support, and your voice will be heard as we assemble our team and a fan driven brand.”

This is a meaningful evolution of their previous talking point that the team will be by Seattle, of Seattle and for Seattle, perhaps addressing Seattle Sports fans need to be spoken to directly after years of feeling ignored.

Not that I think for a second that a specific focus on fans is going to detract from their commitment to a broader Seattle coalition. The team continues to make big moves like forging a substantial partnership with KEXP and the hiring of Mari Horita from Artsfund. Also in his letter to fans Tod announced the creation of a Fan Giving Council, pledging that the team would match interest earned from season ticket deposits as a donation to local charities.

Much of the recent coverage has centered around Tod and his fan-centric vision for the team.

“You live the life of the fan.” he told the Athletic. ”You buy tickets like the fan, you park where they park, you eat the same hot dogs, and by doing that, you can really understand their journey. I’ve always had an abiding respect of fans. It’s one thing to buy a ticket, but the most important thing they’re giving you is their faith and their passion and those are valuable things in this world. Fans make teams. Smart organizations build their organizations around the fans.”

”Common themes in his career have been authenticity, community and philanthropy, not to mention energy and enthusiasm.”, wrote Nick Costonika of NHL.com, ”He has focused on fan service, sense of place and event experience, taking ideas from team to team and coming up with new things.”

“Tod is just very inspiring to me.” Horita told our own Rebecca Maloney, “He has a proven track record of not only being a brilliant leader and a brilliant sports executive but also someone who, at his core, is committed to the community and committed to making a positive difference. That is it part of the foundation. That it is part of the DNA.”

There has been no shortage of quality coverage at a local or national level. Here at Sonics Rising Doug Mellon has actually transitioned to talking about the expansion draft while uniform/logo speculation seems to be picking up momentum, not cooling off. Both @NHLSeattle_ (www.NHLSeattle.com) and @NHLtoSeattle (www.nhltoseattle.com) keep upping their game, offering real insight and exclusive content regularly. As a fun bonus to this our friend John got the dream write up from NHL.com. It couldn’t happen to a nicer or more deserving guy. (side note: I don’t believe he credited me for the picture with Bruckheimer that I took with his phone.)

Wherever I re-emerge after this lull I’m going to be having fun, enjoying this roller coaster ride that David Bonderman, Jerry Bruckheimer, Seattle Hockey Partners, the Leiweke family, OVG. and NHL Seattle have set up for us. I will also remain committed to the next miracle, bringing back the NBA and the Sonics. I will do everything I can to help Tim Leiweke deliver on the commitment he made to basketball fans at the arena groundbreaking:

This ownership group has made a commitment to the city, to the sports fans of the northwest, to the mayor, and all the basketball fans, we’re going to prove that we’re ready for the next one and we’ll work diligently to get that here as well. -Tim Leiweke

Merry Christmas everybody. As always thank you for your participation in this site and the movement it supports.