After the Seattle Storm’s 69-57 victory over the Dallas Wings on Aug. 8 at Angel of the Winds Arena — the last of five regular-season games the reigning WNBA champions played in Everett this season — Storm coach Dan Hughes had the following to say about his team’s experience in Snohomish County:
“I walked back out (on the court) to make sure we expressed to the crowd our appreciation, because I thought they were pivotal today,” Hughes said. “This was a very important game for us, we had lost three in a row, and I thought the crowd was very much behind us in a way that I could feel as a coach, and I’m sure they felt as players. I just really appreciated that.
“I hope we come back.”
Indeed, there’s a good chance the Storm will be back, and it may be sooner rather than later.
The Storm could return to Angel of the Winds in September for playoff games, and there’s a good chance Seattle will be playing regular-season home games in Everett again next year.
The Storm are temporarily without a permanent home as KeyArena was knocked down to make way for a new arena. Therefore, Seattle used two arenas as its home base this season. Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion on the campus of the University of Washington is serving as the primary home base, hosting 12 of Seattle’s 17 home games this season. Angel of the Winds hosted the other five when scheduling conflicts made Hec Ed unavailable.
No arena has been named as the host for possible playoff games. However, classes begin at the University of Washington in September, and that makes hosting Storm games at Hec Ed more complicated. Therefore, Everett is the front-runner to be Seattle’s playoff home.
“It’s not for certain, but it’s expected,” Angel of the Winds Arena general manager Corey Margolis said. “I know we have all the dates and I believe the Storm would like to play their games here. But they need to work that out as playoff position becomes more solidified.”
The Storm, who have six games remaining in the regular season, have yet to clinch a postseason spot, but they’re almost certain to earn a postseason berth. Seattle (15-13) is currently the No. 6 seed in the league, with eight teams making the playoffs. The team in ninth position, the Indiana Fever, is 9-17, five games behind the Storm in the standings. So any combination of wins by Seattle and losses by Indiana equaling three assures Seattle a place in the postseason.
However, making the playoffs doesn’t necessarily mean playing at home. The first two rounds of the WNBA playoffs are single games, with the top four seeds receiving double byes and Nos. 5 and 6 receiving single byes. As things stand now, the Storm, as the No. 6 seed, would get a bye in the first round, then host a one-game, winner-take-all second-round game. The semifinals and finals are best-of-five series and would guarantee at least one home contest.
The playoffs are scheduled to begin Sept. 11 and could continue through Oct. 10.
Angel of the Winds proved to be a generous host for the Storm during the regular season. Seattle went 4-1 in its five games in Everett. The Storm are 6-3 in nine home games so far at Hec Ed.
Crowds also turned out for the Storm. Seattle’s average announced attendance for games at Angel of the Winds was 6,816, including a sellout of 8,500 for opening day when the Storm held their ring ceremony for their 2018 championship. And although those numbers reflected a substantial number of season-ticket holders who chose not to make the trek north to Everett, the crowds were always enthusiastic.
“It’s been so amazing having the Storm here in Everett,” Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin said via email. “Our city really showed support and enthusiasm for these inspiring and talented athletes. We are proud to be their home away from home and look forward to offering a great visitor experience to all their fans.”
Seattle averaged 7,904 though its first nine home games at Hec Ed. Through Sunday, the Storm ranked fourth in the league in attendance at 7,515 per contest.
Construction on the new Seattle arena is scheduled to continue through 2020, so the Storm will need a temporary home again next season. Seattle general manager Alisha Valavanis has said the decision where to play home games next season will be determined once this season is over and the team can evaluate how things went. But Angel of the Winds has a strong argument, and the hope is that the Storm will be back again next year.
“It’s definitely on the radar,” Margolis said. “It’s not solidified, but I believe both parties are interested in continuing the relationship. I think it was a really successful year, we were 4-1 in our Storm games here, so clearly the court was good for them here. I look forward to many more games and many more victories here.”
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