NHL unanimously approves Seattle expansion

Credit GAZETTE STAFF  Caroline O’Connor

Credit GAZETTE STAFF Caroline O’Connor

The NHL Seattle group reached its goal of 10,000 deposits in 12 minutes when a season-ticket drive launched on March 1.

"We are thrilled that Seattle, a city with a proud hockey history that includes being the home for the first American team ever to win the Stanley Cup, is finally joining the NHL".

Play is expected to begin in 2021, depending on the progress of arena renovations for Seattle's first major winter sports team since the NBA's SuperSonics left town in 2008.

The NHL officially is headed to Seattle.

In a geographically sensical move, the league announced Arizona will shift from the Pacific Division to the Central in order to make room for Seattle.

The decision was widely expected after the Seattle Hockey Partners group impressed the board's executive committee in October with a plan that had all the ingredients the NHL was looking for.

The owners will pay a $650 million expansion fee, up from the $500 million the Vegas Golden Knights paid to join the league just two years ago.

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It will play home games at the Seattle Center Arena, formerly known as the KeyArena, which is undergoing $700 million in renovations. Strong ownership led by billionaire David Bonderman and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, a downtown arena in a sports-crazed city and a season-ticket drive that drummed up 10,000 orders in 12 minutes all cleared the way for the National Hockey League to add another team less than three years after approving a franchise in Las Vegas.

The NHL Board of Governors has voted unanimously to approve expansion to Seattle.

A Seattle franchise would mean the addition of a 16th team to the Western Conference, matching the number in the East.

Seattle's original professional hockey team, the Seattle Metropolitans of the old Pacific Coast Hockey Association (no, *not* the NHL) was the first US -based team to win the Stanley Cup back in 1917. The team will follow the same expansion draft rules as Vegas did in 2017, selecting a player from each club (except for Vegas) for 30 total players.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman pointing out that a Seattle team gives the NHL a footprint in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and provides the nearby Vancouver Canucks with a natural rival.

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

Before considering expansion, the board opens its annual two-day December meeting Monday with updates on the state of the league's business and hockey operations.

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