Sports

NHL approves expansion to Seattle with its owners to pay a $650 million fee

SEA ISLAND, Ga. — The NHL is coming to Seattle.

League commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement on
Tuesday at a press conference following the conclusion of the
board of governors meetings.

The NHL’s 32nd team was unanimously approved in a vote and will
begin play in 2021-22.

Seattle’s ownership group led by billionaire David Bonderman
and a number of minority partners, including Hollywood producer
Jerry Bruckheimer, will pay an expansion fee of $US650 million.

The Vegas Golden Knights paid $500 million when they joined the
league in 2016.

Seattle will play in the Pacific Division, meaning the Arizona
Coyotes will move to the Central Division.

The new team gives the NHL an even 16 franchises in the Eastern
and Western conferences and will provide the Vancouver Canucks
a natural geographic rival for the first time.

Seattle
Mayor Jenny Durkan, right, high-fives minor league hockey player
Jaina Goscinski on Oct. 8, 2018, during a news conference in
Seattle announcing plans to build an NHL ice hockey practice
facility.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Viewed as a slam dunk ahead of the vote, expansion to Seattle —
the largest U.S. market without an NHL or NBA team prior to
today’s announcement — required 75 per cent approval, in this
case a thumbs up from 24 of 31 owners, to pass.

The $650-million expansion fee will be divided up between 30
NHL teams. Vegas does not get a cut of the money and is exempt
from the expansion draft.

The board’s nine-member executive committee recommended
proceeding with the expansion application back in October after
a presentation that included Bonderman, Bruckheimer and Seattle
Hockey Partners president and CEO Tod Leiweke.

KeyArena, which was home to the NBA’s SuperSonics before they
moved to Oklahoma City in 2008, is primed to undergo a massive
$700-million renovation.

A ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday in
downtown Seattle.

After the NHL said it would consider the potential ownership
group’s expansion application at this time last year, a
season-ticket drive to gauge interest resulted in a
jaw-dropping 32,000 deposits, including 10,000 purchased in the
first 12 minutes.

There are also plans to build a $70-million practice facility.

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