A year ago, Normandy Park resident Shane Savery and his buddies were looking to bail on Kraken season-ticket commitments they’d purchased together, complaining that the first-year NHL team was awful and adding that they were barely giving away tickets on nights they couldn’t attend games at Climate Pledge Arena.

Savery has since moved to Texas and sold his ticket shares to another pal in their group. And he’s jealous he’s no longer part of their contingent, saying his friends couldn’t be happier watching a first-place Kraken team and noting that their spare tickets are commanding face value or higher on secondary markets.

“They’re loving it,” Savery said. “They’re selling the tickets, they’re making a little bit of money … a whole different ballgame.”

Rebounding after a rocky first season, the Kraken entered this week’s All-Star break atop the Pacific Division with a 29-15-5 record and 63 points — two victories and three points more than all of last season. Most online projections give the Kraken at least a 90% chance to reach the playoffs. The team’s play and ticket sales have improved, but TV ratings have remained flat, suggesting there’s still some work to do.

Can the Kraken win over more Seattle sports fans? The second half of the season, and a possible playoff appearance, might provide the answer.

Though ticket value is only one aspect of the Kraken’s business, it provides important clues about a team’s market demand. All 17,151 seats at Climate Pledge Arena are “sold out” for Kraken contests, but season-ticket holders often try to resell their seats online when they can’t attend all 41 home games, or to offset their initial expense. 


When demand plummets as it did last season while the Kraken were posting the league’s third-worst record, tickets go unused and empty seats appear by the hundreds and sometimes thousands — impacting other business operations. This season, fans describe higher market demand and better gameday experiences.

Those demand anecdotes are supported by Greg Cohen, a spokesperson for New York-based Ticket IQ, which uses proprietary software to track ticket asking prices on 90% of the secondary market. Cohen said this week that average asking prices for Kraken seats are up 31% since the start of the season, jumping from $255 to $334. They’re also up 42% from $235 at the end of last season and have climbed within 5% of the all-time high of $352 right before the team’s October 2021 launch.

Asking prices differ from final sale prices, which are tough to quickly compile on a national scale. But percentage increases and declines in asking prices typically correlate closely to sale prices. 

With demand trending up, more fans are inside the arena and the Kraken are seeing additional business impacts.

“We’re just getting better and better at doing what we need to do,” Kraken president Victor de Bonis said. “On the ice, off the ice. It’s been really good.”

The Kraken have had strong merchandise sales from the start, immediately setting NHL records in 2020 upon unveiling their name and logo. De Bonis said the team’s improved performance has helped maintain strong retail numbers inside the arena, where the Kraken remain among the top two in NHL merchandise sales even as novelty surrounding the expansion franchise subsides. 


He said the Kraken also rank among the top five in the NHL for arena food and beverage sales.

The Kraken have worked to improve the gameday experience for fans, adding a troll mascot named Buoy, a marching band and a full-time organist and revamping their pregame video show with a new musical score produced for the team by Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer.

Fans are also getting to know Kraken players as they make public appearances, which were prohibited last season because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Newcomers Matty Beniers (an All-Star and rookie-of-the-year front-runner), Andre Burakovsky, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Justin Schultz along with holdovers Jared McCann, Jordan Eberle and Vince Dunn have been big contributors to the Kraken’s success in their second season.

The Kraken Community Iceplex at Northgate has seen increased numbers of fans attending team practices, watching road games on giant video screens during free skates and taking part in hockey lessons and recreational leagues.

De Bonis said fan surveys after every game at Climate Pledge now see about 80% generating “very strong” Net Prompter Scores of 9 and 10 out of 10 in terms of arena experience.


“I think a lot of fans appreciate that you’re starting out and it takes time,” de Bonis said of last season. “But overall they’ve been very supportive. And now, obviously, when you go to games this season you do see a pop in the energy more often.”

Not everything has rebounded, as local Kraken television ratings on ROOT Sports remain flat despite a recent team-record eight-game winning streak. 

The Kraken saw that streak end with a loss to Tampa Bay. At that point, their season total Nielsen rating of 0.68 in the Seattle-Tacoma market ranked in the bottom third of 23 measured U.S.-based teams. Those ratings stayed flat over six ensuing games — several against league powerhouses and division rivals — averaging an audience of just 14,158 households. 

That about matches the average households watching last March and April as the losing Kraken played meaningless games. 

De Bonis would like to average a 1.0 rating by season’s end — which would likely rank in the top 10 for U.S. clubs. He’d been encouraged by recent ratings of 1.0 and 1.1 for some late December games and during the team’s win streak. 

But ratings and ticket prices often take a half-season or more to mirror a team’s play. That’s why the more immediate surge in ticket values appears to bode well. 


Another important aspect in improved Kraken ticket value is the team sold season packages in plans of three, five and seven years. The first of those plans — containing a majority of ticket holders — comes due for renewal just over a year from now.

Last season, frustrated ticket holders often found the seats they’d paid $300 a game for were selling for $150 or less on secondary market exchanges such as StubHub, Ticketmaster and SeatGeek.

Greg O’Brien, a season-ticket holder with seats in the arena’s Amex Club, worries the Kraken might have initially priced tickets too high. A self-described “serious hockey fan,” he said the arena atmosphere is better this season with the team winning, more seats filled and fans fully engaged.

But even with improved demand, O’Brien said he struggles to sell tickets to weeknight games. He added that hefty fees charged by resale platforms mean he must price his tickets well above face value to break even.

“Long term, if you can’t sell your tickets for face value, then come three, five or seven years — whatever you’re in for — then you’re just going to get out of it,” he said of season-ticket commitments. “And you’re going to go to buying off the street.”

So the Kraken need demand to stay high and perhaps increase to have the best shot at maximizing ticket renewals.


“It certainly helps,” said Bill Chapin, the team’s senior vice president of sales and service. “We want season-ticket members to feel valued. And we want season-ticket members to feel — whether they have a partner or a group of family members they are going in on this with, or they choose to resell their seats — that there’s value in that.”

Chapin said other factors beyond improved Kraken play helped increase demand, suggesting a nationwide drop in COVID-19 statistics made fans feel safer inside arenas. He added that the lifting of pandemic restrictions also improved the overall experience. 

“We see a nice, upward trend of fans coming to our games the rest of the season, having a good time and maybe feeling like a part of something bigger than themselves,” he said. “And hopefully, if the team continues to do well it will go deeper into the spring.”