Fans flock to ShoWare Center to see T-Birds take the ice
January 8, 2009 · Updated 6:08 PM
Fans found plenty to love Saturday night at the city of Kent’s ShoWare Center, the new home of the Seattle Thunderbirds hockey team.
The Thunderbirds beat the Everett Silvertips 4-3 in front of a sold-out crowd of 6,125 at the inaugural game at the ShoWare Center. Fans soaked in the atmosphere of the $84.5 million events center before the game.
“Seattle ought to be embarrassed,” said Kyle Stephenson, who drove up from Belfair to meet his son from Seattle for the game.
“They can put these arenas in Kent and Everett and Seattle can’t build a new one.”
Mark Wheeldon and Taffi Necker, of Tacoma, plan to buy season tickets next year.
“This place is awesome,” Wheeldon said. “It feels like it was purpose-built for hockey.”
Necker found the new arena similar to a new car or new house.
“It smells really clean,” Necker said. “I like that.”
Kyle and Mike Stephenson ate at The Ram restaurant at Kent Station before the game. They waited two hours to get a table as hockey fans packed the restaurant.
“This will pump a lot of money into the economy,” Kyle Stephenson said.
Derek and Linda Gulbransen, of Puyallup, bought season tickets this year for the first time because the T-birds moved to Kent from Seattle.
“That was too far to drive,” Linda Gulbransen said.
The couple occasionally attended games at KeyArena, but prefer the ShoWare Center.
“This is a lot more comfortable,” said Linda Gulbranse n as she settled into her seat behind the team benches.
“This is a lot more intimate.”
The Gulbransens parked at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center because the arena lot filled up.
“But we actually were closer to the entrance,” Linda Gulbransen said. “We just had to walk across the street.”
Fans enjoyed the free parking at the events center and the Regional Justice Center.
“In this day and age that’s unheard of,” said Kyle Stephenson, used to paying for parking for sporting events in Seattle.
Mike Stephenson lives in Queen Anne near KeyArena, the former home of the Thunderbirds.
“I’ll gladly drive down here because KeyArena sucks,” said Mike Stephenson, who has had season tickets for three years. “This is very nice. It’s a lot better than KeyArena.”