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Seattle NHL Expansion Bid Heads Toward Key Meeting

KeyArena renovation Oak View Group hockey

On Tuesday, the Seattle NHL expansion bid will be presented to the league’s executive committee, marking a key step as it works to gain approval. 

Billionaire David Bonderman and producer Jerry Bruckheimer are leading an effort to bring an NHL expansion franchise to Seattle. Plans call for the team to play its home games at a renovated KeyArena, which is set to receive a privately financed $700 million overhaul led by the Oak View Group.

The next step in the bid’s process will come Tuesday, when the Seattle Hockey Partners group and Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan meet with the NHL executive committee in New York City. That meeting will not immediately trigger final approval, as it will eventually be up to the full NHL board of governors to decide whether or not to accept Seattle’s bid. However, Tuesday’s meeting will provide Seattle NHL backers the opportunity to showcase the bid’s progress to the executive committee. More from King 5:

Also expected to be in the room: the influential Jeremy Jacobs and Jeff Vinik, owner of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, who once hired Tod Leiweke to run his operation in Tampa, has business ties with Bill Gates, and told KING 5 earlier this year how much of a fan he was of Seattle.

The Seattle presentation is expected to last an hour and a half, before the owners break to meet with the full Board of Governors at another meeting in the city.

The NHL says that Seattle is not on the formal agenda, but it’s likely [NHL Commissioner Gary] Bettman and the owners will have a strong opinion about the future of the bid and a potential final full ‘BOG’ vote. The tone will likely guide the city and OVG timeline on construction.

The final deal included a clause prohibiting demolition of KeyArena until an NHL team is officially awarded to Seattle. Bettman and his chief lieutenant, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, have hinted that they don’t see a final vote until December. However, a strong indication of some sort could make Durkan waive the clause to allow OVG to begin earlier. Tim Leiweke told reporters after the September 24 vote that he’d like to begin construction in the next 30-60 days.

It has been anticipated that the NHL expansion bid could be considered and ultimately approved by the league’s board of governors in December, with the 2020-21 season being the earliest that the team would begin play. That date is not finalized, however, and more certainty should emerge if/when the expansion bid is approved.

The KeyArena renovation will raise the venue to modern NBA and NHL standards, and Seattle hopes to eventually land teams in both leagues. The renovation is expected to conclude by October 2020.

Rendering courtesy Oak View Group.

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