EVERETT — Paine Field could play a part in a new thriller we’re calling “Skates on a Plane.”
The NHL’s newest expansion team will play home games at the new $1 billion Climate Pledge Arena at Seattle Center, but the team’s headquarters and practice center will be at the former site of Northgate Mall in north Seattle.
Ricky Olczyk, the Seattle Kraken’s assistant general manager, said Snohomish County-owned Paine Field and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are contenders.
“Some players like to be close to the airport where they’re practicing,” Olczyk said in an interview with KING-TV this week. “We’re looking at exploring all those different options.”
Alaska Airlines, which operates flights from Paine Field and Sea-Tac, was named the Kraken’s official airline in July.
At this point, it’s a toss-up between the two airports.
“It could be at Sea-Tac, it might be at Everett,” Olczyk said.
If this helps them decide, the current stats are 21 and 16. It’s 21 miles to Sea-Tac from Northgate vs. 16 miles to Paine Field.
But putting Paine Field on the team roster raises a lot of questions:
• If players are in a hurry, can they wear their skates on the plane?
• Would a Stanley Cup fit in the overhead bin?
• Can the Kraken mascot get extra armrests?
We don’t have the answers — we’re on standby.
Brett Smith, CEO of Propeller Airports, the private company that built and operates the Paine Field terminal, said he’d welcome the NHL hockey team.
“Not only would we go out of our way to make them feel at home, but we’d make sure to keep plenty of ice on hand,” Smith said.
The Kraken will take the ice for the 2021-22 season, presumably about a year from now, but it’s not clear when, exactly, that season will commence. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the 2019-20 season didn’t end until Sept. 28, and the 2020-21 season won’t start until Jan. 1. That late start could affect the date of the Kraken’s first faceoff for the 2021-22 season.
More flights at PAE
Meanwhile, the Everett terminal saw the commercial flight schedule increase this month as airline service worldwide slowly recovers from the pandemic. Commercial airline service returned to Paine Field in August after a 10-week ramp repair project shut down the terminal during the lull.
Alaska Airlines this week resumed daily flights to Los Angeles and Palm Springs. The Seattle-based carrier now serves those two destinations plus Phoenix and Las Vegas. (Incidentally, Palm Springs will be the home of the Kraken’s American Hockey League farm team.)
Next month, Alaska will resume service to Orange County and San Diego, said Ray Lane, an airline spokesman.
“Every flight that comes back signals an uptick in local economic activity, which benefits everyone,” said Smith, Propeller’s CEO.
“Right now we’re back up to four destinations out of Paine Field,” Lane said. “On November 20th, we’ll hit six.”
United Airlines, which shares the terminal with Alaska, currently operates flights between Denver and Everett six days a week, an airline spokesman said.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the two airlines operated up to 24 daily flights from Everett.
Janice Podsada; firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods