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Seattle NHL Expansion Application Submitted

Seattle Arena Oak View Group

On Tuesday, an application was submitted for a Seattle NHL expansion franchise, another step in the process of potentially bringing a team to the city. 

The possibility of the NHL coming to Seattle has received plenty of discussion in recent months, particularly since the Seattle City Council’s decision in December to approve a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Oak View Group on a $600-million renovation to KeyArena. Shortly after that vote was taken, the NHL announced that it would consider a pitch for a Seattle expansion franchise.

For the latest step to bring an NHL team to Seattle, Oak View Group and the prospective franchise’s ownership group–led by David Bonderman and producer Jerry Bruckheimer–submitted its expansion application on Tuesday. While more work remains to finalize plans for a Seattle NHL franchise, Tuesday’s action was celebrated by supporters of the effort. More from the AP:

“We are excited for the next steps in the process and our continued partnership with the City of Seattle,” Oak View CEO Tim Leiweke said in a statement.

The expansion application has been expected for weeks and is the next step in Seattle’s ongoing hope of bringing an NHL franchise to the largest market in the United States without a professional winter sports franchise. The filing also included a $10 million deposit. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan also tweeted her excitement about Oak View’s filing with the NHL.

If Seattle is successful in its expansion bid, the new franchise would bring the league to an even 32 teams with 16 in each conference. A new team would also yield a hefty expansion fee — in the neighborhood of $650 million.

The expansion application is a procedural step that was necessary to validate Oak View’s intent on making Seattle the next NHL market. Seattle’s application will be reviewed and ultimately the league’s executive committee will make a recommendation to the full NHL Board of Governors. The timeline for that is unknown.

One of the storylines that will be watched closely in the coming months is the effort to build support through a season-ticket drive, a process very similar to the one undertaken by the owners of the Vegas Golden Knights before their expansion bid was approved. Vegas, the most recent NHL expansion franchise, paid a $500 million expansion fee, while it is anticipated that Seattle would have to pay a $650 million fee for entry.

It if is ultimately approved, the Seattle NHL expansion franchise could begin play as early as 2020, as it is anticipated that the renovations to KeyArena could be finished that year. The KeyArena renovation will raise the venue to modern NHL and NBA standards. While Seattle is expected to pursue teams in both leagues, the NHL appears to be the more imminent possibility.

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