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Tod Talks: Perhaps more importantly he’s listening

Seattle Seahawks Introduce Pete Carroll - Press Conference Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Last night Tod Leiweke, President and CEO of NHL Seattle joined KJR’s Softy Mahler to discuss the status of arena construction and our NHL expansion process. This informative interview was the first of what will become a weekly broadcast, airing each Tuesday at 6:20pm on SportsRadio950.

No holds barred, everything’s on the table, that’s what Tod told me.” Mahler described the segment after asking Tod a sensitive question about Brian Windhorst’s recent ESPN reporting on the viability of their project.”

I promise you this, we are going to have new and interesting conversations.” Leiweke replied, “I encourage your listeners to send along comments and ideas.

Once again this is an idea that is going to take some getting used to. Listening to us? Really?

Not being listened to is, in my opinion, the most consistent and dominant complaint of sports fans in the region. We’ve been talked to, mostly when people want to sell us tickets or merchandise but listening sessions have been few and far between, especially those where they listen specifically to us without forcing us the conversation towards some “broader Seattle” or “greater good of the city” audience that makes it more difficult to express the specific concerns we have around this issue or for our community. For the most part we’ve been disregarded unless we shouted or brought an army to city hall.

Leiweke intends to change that perception:

”One of the things we’re definitely doing is listening.” he told Softy, ”If your listeners have thoughts we are good listeners right now. Send them to you and I promise, every thought, every comment, every inspiration will be considered.”

Mahler described Tod’s approach in a text message this morning:

”He wants everything on the table, everything discussed. He may not be able to answer everything obviously, especially if things are sensitive from a business perspective, but he clearly wants the fans concerns to be address. Whatever they may be.”

I can speak to this firsthand. When ticket sales were announced for the Warriors/Kings exhibition game with a top price of $600/ticket I was surprised at how many of my friends called or e-mailed to express concerns about pricing. I relayed this concern to the team at NHL Seattle and was pleasantly surprised to have the issue of ticket affordability directly addressed in the very first episode of Softy’s show:

It is a really important to David Bonderman and it is important to all of us.” Tod tells Softy and Dick. ”When you have 32,000 depositors some would say you could price it as you want but we are going to make sure we have affordable seats and there are going to be plenty of seats under $50 in this building. And then we are going to make sure that those seats end up in the hands of the fans and not those who participate in the middle market.

Question asked, question answered. How great is that?

The interview also contains great tidbits about the NHL expansion process, local ownership, practice facilities and even the fun stuff that fans really want to talk about like uniforms and team colors. I highly encourage people to listen to last nights episode in its entirety and follow along each Tuesday at 6:20pm.

What would you like to see Tod discuss in next week’s broadcast?