Giving a Green Lake boutique company the responsibility of hosting a televised ‘party’ at Gas Works Park to celebrate Kraken players’ choice in the NHL expansion draft is nowhere in sight. on the next day.
Hotopp Associates was started almost four decades ago when its late founder, award-winning Broadway set designer Michael Hotopp, wanted to get into television, corporate theater and themed entertainment work. This has since evolved into an array of creative endeavors in the corporate and entertainment world, and increasingly in hockey due to a relationship between the business owner and the senior manager of the NHL which manages the live events.
Hotopp CEO Gary Wichansky, who joined the company in 2001 and bought it from Michael Hotopp in 2013, had worked at IMG with current NHL content director Steve Mayer, and his company went on to go on to worked with him on the league’s Winter Classic outdoor game several years ago. .
This led to the hiring of Hotopp Associates for physical production work during last summer’s NHL playoffs in the COVID-19 ‘bubble’ areas in Edmonton and Toronto, and now to the creation and Implementing Gas Works Park stages and sets for the television broadcast of the league-produced expansion draft Wednesday on ESPN2.
“We do entertainment and experience and design production for all kinds of things – not just sports,” Wichansky said as workers finalized the sets on Tuesday before the park gates opened on Wednesday afternoon. to about 4,000 fans with tickets. “We do a lot of corporate work, we do a lot of vacation attractions and things like that.
“Right now we’ve just been in a groove where we’re doing a lot of these sports-related entertainment projects. But my experience is actually in the theater. We have architects, we have interior designers. And we are a small group. But it’s eclectic.
Michael Hotopp, who was still a consultant when he died in November at the age of 74, had moved the company’s headquarters from New York to Seattle around 2005.
The company has 10 permanent employees and forms teams for various projects through partners and suppliers. His work ranges from sculpted ice attractions for Marriott hotels nationwide, to “destination theme” at various ports for a major cruise line, to setting up sets for SeaWorld and organizing events at the SeaWorld. corporate meetings for Fortune 500 companies.
“I think we have a profession that no one knows really exists,” Wichansky said. “We call it something where you can hire your own team of ‘imaginers’, and that’s kind of what we do. We’re becoming an extension of the staff for someone like the NHL and the Kraken. We take all the fun things that they’re trying to figure out how to make, and we design them, design them, and produce them.
Hotopp helped the NHL and Kraken find the best way to present the Expansion Draft as a standalone event. Four years ago when the Vegas Golden Knights made their draft, it was combined with the annual NHL awards show.
This time around, the league wanted something that would really showcase Seattle to the hockey world.
“They’ve had events like this before at Gas Works – in a few different places,” Wichansky said. “But I think the place where we do it is unique because it was really important for us to set up the stage structure in a way that really frames the city for the TV show.”
They also came up with the idea of inviting boaters to ‘Sail-gate’ at the event in adjacent Lake Union, where prizes will be awarded for the best Kraken-themed craft.
“We want it to look a bit like a party – a celebration, if you will,” Wichansky said. “It’s Seattle, it’s summer and we’re outside. I can’t think of a better way to bring in this new team.