Kraken select Muckleshoot Indian Tribe as new jersey patch partner

Photo: Seattle Kraken

The Seattle Kraken will join an assortment of teams in the National Hockey League to add a sponsor patch to their home and road jerseys, naming the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe as the official partner for both Kraken home and road jerseys. 

The sponsorship to add the Muckleshoot logo to Kraken game jerseys, placed just above the right chest of the jersey, will begin in the 2023-24 season. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Next season will be the first in what the Kraken say is a multi-year deal, the first of its kind in the NHL to partner with an Indian Tribe. The patch, bearing the "Muckleshoot" word mark across the top, features the iconic visual of Mount Rainier located in the middle, whose national park is ancestral homeland to the Muckleshoot Tribe.

The patch is posed to function more than just a simple face of a growing revenue stream across the league. 

“Personally for me it's a soaring day," Kraken chief executive officer Tod Leiweke told 93.3 KJR-FM. "Because I am of strong belief in what the tribe stands for. The land declaration that we read each and every game is real and substantive. But I think for the tribe, this partnership is a wonderful thing. It's going to be a gateway to tell their story, build their enterprise."

"This is a very unique tribe whose heritage runs deep in Seattle."

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, a federally recognized Indian tribe with membership connected to descendants of the Duwamish and Upper Puyallup people with original establishment in 1857, has their reservation located about 15 miles northeast of Tacoma and will now partner with the Kraken to expand the game’s outreach efforts. The patch

"It's incredibly empowering to have the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe's seal represented on the Kraken jersey," said Donny Stevenson, vice-chairman of the Muckeshoot Indian Tribe. "Realistically I think it's a direct reflection of the shared values of our organization - particularly as it relates to sustainability and protection of the region and environment."

According to the Kraken, the partnership acknowledges Muckleshoot’s historical and present contributions to the region and will help create outreach programs for indigenous youth. A community multi-sport court will be created on the Muckleshoot Reservation and artwork visuals which will be revealed inside Climate Pledge Arena, celebrating indigenous people. 

"Someday one of these kids from the Tribe will be pulling on this journey, and that would be a heck of a dream," said Leiweke.

Reminders of that connection, now with a visual stamp on the Kraken jersey, will be seen as part of potential iconic moments in the future. Should a Kraken player break a franchise record: the patch will be there. Should the Kraken make a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs: the patch will be there. All across games televised locally from the Puget Sound to the outer reaches of national coverage: the patch will be there. 

“This joyful day brings with it a sense of hope that our young people will see themselves represented by the team in the heart of Seattle and around the country with our Tribe’s logo on the front of every Kraken jersey,” said Muckleshoot Tribal chairman Jaison Elkins in a team statement. 

Jersey sponsor patches are hardly a groundbreaking concept in sports, when it comes to usage for years in leagues such as the WNBA, Major League Soccer, and various teams across the NWHL and minor league hockey. But they are relatively new to the big leagues such as the NHL, where it was once considered off-limits. 

The COVID-19 pandemic changed that picture after league commissioner Gary Bettman said the NHL suffered losses in the billion dollar range, creating a sudden need for additional revenue streams to help offset the financial downturn. NHL teams began selling sponsorships on player helmets two seasons ago, and now the jersey is open for business. 

League teams reportedly each stand to make between an estimated $5-10 million in jersey sponsorship revenue, a similar figure for the cost of an arena naming rights deal. The league said, for now, jerseys will be limited to one ad patch

As it stands, the Kraken will now enter the game of creating space for said jersey partnership. Along with that comes their vocally repeated core values of community impact, with a partner whose involvement with the team dates back to early stages of arena renovation when the Muckleshoot Canoe Family singers blessed the construction grounds. 

"All the teams are doing it, and if we don't do it, we fall behind," said Leiweke. "We knew inevitably we knew there would be a partner on this beautiful jersey. We love this jersey."

"It's a fit relative to mission, community, a fit in Seattle - a town named after Chief Seattle, and the colors are complimentary by chance; it's a beautiful thing."

Kraken jerseys bearing the new sponsorship patch are expected to hit retail locations starting next season. 

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