Seattle's NHL expansion franchise has not ruled out unveiling its highly anticipated name and logo while many of its fans are social distancing and self-quarantined due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The team told ESPN that it is still going through the name and logo trademarking process with the NHL, ensuring that it won't have the same obstacles the Vegas expansion team did in trying to secure exclusivity on "Golden Knights." There was no date determined to reveal the name, logo and colors for the team before the global outbreak, nor was there a public event scheduled for the reveal.
"In theory, coronavirus will not delay our name and will not affect it, but we're in unprecedented times. So I can't say that as soon as the legal process is wrapped up that we'll go with the name," said Katie Townsend, vice president of corporate communications at NHL Seattle. "We're working as hard as we can. We know how badly our fans want it."
Seattle will become the NHL's 32nd team in the 2021-22 season, a timeline that the league says has not been altered with this season on hiatus.
But the franchise's timeline has been interrupted when it comes to ticket sales and payments.
"In theory, coronavirus will not delay our name and will not affect it, but we're in unprecedented times. So I can't say that as soon as the legal process is wrapped up that we'll go with the name. We're working as hard as we can. We know how badly our fans want it." Katie Townsend, vice president of corporate communications at NHL Seattle
Seattle has sold much of its premium seating since the fall, with four payment plans available. If there was a payment due in April, May or June, those have all been deferred to July 1 with the overall payment schedule being adjusted accordingly. The team said the coronavirus outbreak will require further "monitoring" to see if that date holds.
General seat selection was due to begin in March at a facility called the NHL Seattle Preview Center, a space that tells the story of the new franchise and allows fans to choose their seats on a large model of the arena at Seattle Center. But the team has paused that process and is deciding whether to resume in a virtual space while many fans are self-isolating.
"Some of it is the economic uncertainty. Some of it is about how the community is feeling, in terms of having friends and relatives who are sick, in terms of having responsibilities where they're looking after their kids and home-schooling while doing their jobs from home," Townsend said. "We never want to be tone-deaf in rolling something out that should be, for many people, an exciting moment. We can do this when the time is right."
Seattle has closed its public schools through April 24. Public gatherings are restricted, which led to entertainment and recreation venues closing statewide. There is not yet a "shelter in place" edict for the state, however.
Seattle's newest sports franchise is exploring ways to help the community during the crisis.
"Plans are underway to start a high-impact charitable foundation dedicated to marginalized youth and fostering equity and inclusion. Today we are exploring multiple near-term ways to support our community, specifically our neighbors and nonprofit partners most impacted. An immediate step this week is a donation of $100,000 to Youth Care to aid its critical needs addressing youth homelessness," NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke said, adding that "community is bedrock to what Oak View Group and NHL Seattle do."