Thunderbirds are go in Kent!

The Seattle Thunderbirds are prepping now for their big move to the Kent Events Center later this year.

Seattle Thunderbirds Captain Thomas Hickey

Seattle Thunderbirds Captain Thomas Hickey

The Seattle Thunderbirds are prepping now for their big move to the Kent Events Center later this year.

And for all intents, the local community seems pretty keen about having a semi-pro hockey team in its backyard.

The excitement was visible Aug. 20, during a welcome party in downtown Kent, at which the T-Birds’ top administrative brass mingled with area business people, local folks and City Council members.

“I grow more excited every day,” said Ben Wolters, Kent’s director of economic development, who attended the function, and who has been a major player in development of the events center. “It’s fantastic to see the Thunderbirds embraced by the community. By bringing an organization like here, I think it’s going to be a great addition to the community.”

Ian Henry, the T-Birds’ director of public and media relations, said community response so far has been “phenomenal.”

“People are stopping by the office; they’re saying hi; they’re looking for more information,” Henry said in an interview Thursday, referring to the team’s temporary office located at 109 Second Ave. in downtown Kent.

And noting the team’s long-term lease with the city, as the Kent Event Center’s anchor tenant, Henry added, “We’re really looking forward to being here for the next 30 years.”

Of the Aug. 20 event, which was organized with help from the Kent Downtown Partnership, Kent Chamber of Commerce and the City of Kent, Henry said the friendliness was great, even if the weather wasn’t.

Unseasonal wind and rains drove participants from downtown Kherson Park, to the team’s downtown office.

Priscilla Stultz, an account executive with the Thunderbirds, said ticket sales have been brisk.

At this point, the organization is selling season tickets. So far, the T-Birds have sold 1,700 season tickets, along with 14 of the 20 luxury suites built into the Kent Events Center.

Single-game tickets for the team’s Kent games go on sale after Thanksgiving. Single-game tickets for remaining games at KeyArena go on sale Sept. 3.

The team’s regular season begins Sept. 19 on the road in Prince George. They’ll play the first 26 of their 34 games on the road, and eight at their old home of KeyArena, as they wait for the opening of the Kent Events Center, which is slated for late December or early January.

“We don’t exactly have the exact date of our first game (in Kent),” Henry said, noting there is a window of Dec. 27 to Jan. 2.

But he said it would be fantastic if they could start their Kent sojourn with a Dec. 27 game against the Portland Winter Hawks.

The Thunderbirds are what is called a “Major Junior Team,” functioning essentially like a farm team does in baseball. They are aged 16-20 years and play in the Western Hockey League. Their players bunk with local families, and will be attending Kent-Meridian High School.

To purchase tickets or to learn more about the Thunderbirds and their upcoming move to Kent, call the team’s office in Kent at 206-448-7825.

To learn more about the team on the Web, go to:

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