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NHL to Consider Seattle NHL Expansion Pitch

Seattle Arena Oak View Group

With a proposal to renovate KeyArena moving forward, the NHL has announced it will consider a pitch for a Seattle expansion franchise

Earlier this week, the Seattle City Council approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Oak View Group on a $600-million renovation to KeyArena. The privately financed overhaul will bring the venue to modern NBA and NHL standards.

While it is expected that Seattle will pursue teams in both leagues, it has appeared that the city is closer to obtaining an NHL franchise than it is one in the NBA. On Thursday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed that the league is ready to consider an expansion application from Seattle. Led by David Bonderman and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, the Seattle expansion effort will include a $650 million expansion fee–$150 million higher than the fee that what was paid for the league’s most recent expansion club, the Vegas Golden Knights. As part of the process, Seattle will be allowed to eventually run a season-ticket holder drive. More from The Seattle Times:

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced after a Board of Governors meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., that the league has received a request to file an expansion application from billionaire investment banker David Bonderman and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Bonderman and Bruckheimer are partnered with the Oak View Group (OVG), which this week finalized a deal with the City of Seattle for a $600 million renovation of KeyArena.

The league has agreed to review the application, has set a $650 million expansion fee and now will gauge progress by the Seattle group in coming months before deciding whether to award a franchise to this market.

“Mr. Bonderman, with his partner Jerry Bruckheimer, has asked if they might file an application for an expansion team,’’ Bettman told reporters. “And the board has said that they may do that. That doesn’t mean that we have granted an expansion team. We’ve agreed as a league to take and consider an expansion application and to let them run — at some point in the next few months — a season-ticket drive.”

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed a Memorandum of Understanding with OVG on Wednesday. Durkan and the city hope the renovated KeyArena attracts an NHL team, and eventually the return of an NBA team. The Sonics relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008.

This process is exclusive to Seattle, so other markets–including Quebec City–are not in the mix. While a potential relocation of an existing franchise or franchises has not been ruled out, the NHL’s announcement now provides a road map for Seattle to obtain a team in the coming years. The KeyArena renovation has been slated for a completion in 2020.

The NHL currently sits at 31 teams. Adding a team in the west would help to resolve a geographical imbalance, as the NHL currently has just 10 teams west of the Mississippi River and has 16 clubs in its Eastern Conference, compared to 15 in the Western Conference.

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