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NHL expansion moves to final stage

National Hockey LeagueIt’s been a quiet process, as NHL expansion has moved into a final stage where financials and business plans provided by potential Las Vegas and Quebec City ownership groups are subjected to painstaking scrutiny.

That the two proposed expansion teams are on solid financial ground isn’t really in question: both teams have deep-pocketed ownership groups and both control leases at new arenas. A group led by businessman Bill Foley has collected more than 13,200 season ticket deposits since February, while media giant Quebecor is backing the Quebec City bid for a Videotron Centre team. From AP:

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the development in an email to The Associated Press on Friday.

Daly referred to the third stage as “the last formal phase,” but added, “it does not necessarily constitute the end of the process.”…

Commissioner Gary Bettman has proposed an expansion fee of $500-million. That’s a significant jump from the $80-million fee paid by the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild, when the NHL last expanded to 30 teams in 2000.

The new teams, should the NHL expand to 32 teams, are expected to join the league in the 2017-2018 season. Videotron Centre will open this fall, while the new Las Vegas arena is expected to open in 2016. An expansion to 32 teams also means there’s the chance for a dramatic realignment, one that could include two four-team Canadian divisions and six four-team American divisions.

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