NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said on Thursday, following a city approval to renovate KeyArena, that Seattle can begin the process of filing an application to host the league’s 32nd hockey team. The cost of the team would be $650 million, and it would begin play in the 2020-21 season.
Other cities that expressed interest in joining the NHL are Houston and Quebec City. Bettman said only Seattle is being considered at this time. This announcement follows the first season of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, an expansion team added this season that has seen great success.
The group that will apply for a Seattle team includes Jerry Bruckheimer, a Hollywood producer, and David Bonderman, a private equity CEO. Bonderman and Bruckheimer are partnered with the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group, which finalized a deal earlier in the week with the City of Seattle for a $600 million renovation of KeyArena, which opened in 1962.
“That doesn’t mean we have granted an expansion team,” Commissioner Bettman said following the Board of Governors meeting. “We have agreed as a league to take and consider an expansion application and to let them run in the next few months a season ticket drive.”
Commissioner Bettman said he had no expectation for how long it would take for the Seattle group to submit its application and that even after it does, the NHL has to go through a vetting process similar to what it did with Vegas. In December 2014, owner Bill Foley was granted permission to conduct a season ticket drive for a Vegas team, but the League didn’t announce it would start taking applications until June 2015. Vegas was granted a team one year later.
“We are thrilled that it is happening,” said Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan in a news conference. “I will be talking to the NHL commissioner soon. I’m also hoping to talk to the NBA commissioner because I know I’m going to get that.
We saw the (Vancouver) Canucks are really excited to come here and get beat. And we’re excited to go up north. We remember Seattle has more Stanley Cups and we plan to add to that. We are looking forward to bringing the NHL to Seattle.”
Though Seattle has never had an NHL team, the Pacific Coast Hockey Association’s Seattle Metropolitans were the first U.S.-based team to win the Stanley Cup in 1917.
“From everything I know viscerally I think [Seattle] will be a good market,” Commissioner Bettman added. “I think the geographic rivalry with Vancouver as potential will be nice. Building up a bigger presence in the Pacific Northwest for the NHL, a place that we know has great hockey interest at a variety of other levels, it’s an intriguing possibility. But we’ve got homework to do.”