In May, a banner will be raised at Angel of the Winds Arena.
On Tuesday, the Seattle Storm, the 2018 WNBA champions, announced they were playing five of their 17 home games this season in Everett in 2019, including the May 25 season-opener and championship celebration.
It was the culmination of a long-term process between the arena, the city, the Snohomish County Sports commission and the Storm in naming Everett the franchise’s second home for 2019.
“We have been talking over the last year about where we should go,” said Alisha Valavanis, the Storm’s president and general manager. “We’ve been engaged in numerous conversations and it was evident through those conversations that Everett and Angel of the Winds Arena would be an exceptional second home for us.”
But why Everett? The other 12 Storm home games will be played at Alaska Airlines Arena on the campus of the University of Washington, but due to scheduling and logistical complications, finding a second home benefited the Storm. It also benefits the franchise to expose their product to a new market of the Puget Sound.
“We certainly were in research mode in terms of where would be viable arenas for us to relocate to,” Valavanis said, “and there’s no question that Everett was at the top of the list in terms of the city and an arena for sports. Those conversations just developed from there.”
There was brief mention of the Storm playing home games at an Everett city council meeting on Feb. 28, 2018, but it stayed silent until Tuesday’s announcement.
“I think they responded to a top-notch facility in a market that has a proven track record for supporting sports, namely with the Everett Silvertips. And we’ve seen a great community following that has come from that,” said Corey Margolis, the general manager of Angel of the Winds Arena. “They were excited by not only our facility, the market, but also some of the additional resources we were able to offer to them and our connections in the market, whether it’s our group sales team or our advertising and sponsorship team. Angel of the Winds casino expressed interest in helping the Storm in this market as well.”
The Storm’s arrival comes at a beneficial time for Angel of the Winds, as the Silvertips’ season is concluded at that point and summer concerts indoors are few and far between.
“We’re always trying to bring different entertainment options to people in Everett, which is what the building was for,” Margolis said. “We want to maintain sports events throughout the year for the community here and for the businesses in this area that definitely are positively impacted by things that go on here. We’re thrilled to have the team here. The partnership with the Storm so far has been so positive.”
The home opener will be televised on ABC and the Storm will celebrate its 2018 WNBA Finals title, including hanging a banner into the rafters. Angel of the Winds is thrilled with the exposure a nationally televised game will bring.
“ESPN has already been here to do a site and survey to figure out what they need when they come here,” Margolis said. “It’s always exciting to see our building and our area showcased nationally and it’s extra exciting because the Storm are defending champions.”
The Storm are put in a difficult short-term position with the reconstruction of KeyArena, but the the Storm are fixated on the positives it might bring: Eventually moving into a brand-new, state-of-the-art arena and exposing the WNBA to new areas in Montlake and Everett.
“At the end of the day we’re excited for Seattle. We are excited there’s going to be a new arena and for NHL Seattle. Relocation is a challenging time for a professional sports organization. As we go through that process, we are certainly focused on optimizing and looking at the positive side of a relocation, which is to go to different areas and expose different markets to our product and Seattle Storm basketball.”