Local investors have lined up to become Seattle NHL minority owners, giving the expansion bid a boost as it works toward NHL approval.
Billionaire David Bonderman and producer Jerry Bruckheimer are leading an effort to bring an NHL expansion franchise to Seattle. The team would begin play in the 2020-21 NHL season, coinciding with the completion of a $700 million renovation to KeyArena that is being led by the Oak View Group.
The NHL expansion bid has assembled a group of minority owners that bring plenty of sports and business experience to the effort. David Wright, whose father Hunter S. Wright was an original owner in the Seahawks (NFL) and Sounders, will serve as vice-chairman of the Seattle Hockey Partners Group and be the lead representative for the local minority owners. Among the minority owners are several executives with backgrounds in sports, including Sounders (MLS) majority owner Adrian Hanauer. More from the Seattle Times:
“Our family being involved in owning the Space Needle — which gave us access to Seattle Center — we think this is just a great legacy for our city,’’ Wright said in an interview following a Wednesday press conference at the Space Needle introducing the local ownership team. “And it’s a great opportunity here at Seattle Center.’’
Wright will become vice-chairman of the Seattle Hockey Partners Group — commonly known as NHL Seattle — that’s applied to purchase an expansion team, where he’ll be a voice for the local owners.
He and his brother, Jeff, managing partner at Chihuly Garden and Glass, are two of seven members of a local group that includes current Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer, Chris and Ted Ackerley — whose father was a longtime Sonics owner — Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services and Jay Deutsch, CEO of Bensussen Deutsch & Associates, a global leader in promotional merchandising and technology solutions.
They will own an as-of-yet undisclosed minority stake in the NHL franchise, fronted by billionaire managing partner David Bonderman and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Bonderman, Bruckheimer, NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke and Mayor Jenny Durkan will make an Oct. 2 presentation in New York to the NHL’s executive committee.
Provided that the October presentation results in Seattle’s expansion bid moving forward, it will then go before the full NHL board of governors. The board of governors would likely vote on the bid in December.
The Oak View Group is currently pushing to have several agreements ratified by the Seattle City Council later this month. The firm is working to begin its privately financed renovation later this year, and complete construction in 2020. Ultimately, the project will raise the venue to modern NBA and NHL standards–which should help facilitate an effort to bring the NBA back to Seattle for the first time since the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008–but an NHL franchise is seen as Seattle’s more imminent possibility.
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