NHL ap­proves ex­pan­sion to Seat­tle

Sherbrooke Record - - LOCAL SPORTS -

The NHL is com­ing to Seat­tle. League com­mis­sioner Gary Bettman made the an­nounce­ment on Tues­day at a press con­fer­ence fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of the board of gover­nors meet­ings.

The NHL'S 32nd team was unan­i­mously ap­proved in a vote and will be­gin play in 2021-22.

Seat­tle's own­er­ship group led by bil­lion­aire David Bon­der­man and a num­ber of mi­nor­ity part­ners, in­clud­ing Hol­ly­wood pro­ducer Jerry Bruck­heimer, will pay an ex­pan­sion fee of US$650 mil­lion. The Ve­gas Golden Knights paid $500 mil­lion when they joined the league in 2016.

Seat­tle will play in the Pa­cific Divi­sion, mean­ing the Ari­zona Coy­otes will move to the Cen­tral Divi­sion.

The new team gives the NHL an even 16 fran­chises in the East­ern and West­ern con­fer­ences and will pro­vide the Van­cou­ver Canucks a nat­u­ral ge­o­graphic ri­val for the first time.

Viewed as a slam dunk ahead of the vote, ex­pan­sion to Seat­tle _ the largest U.S. mar­ket with­out an NHL or NBA team prior to to­day's an­nounce­ment _ re­quired 75 per cent ap­proval, in this case a thumbs up from 24 of 31 own­ers, to pass.

The $650-mil­lion ex­pan­sion fee will be di­vided up be­tween 30 NHL teams. Ve­gas does not get a cut of the money and is ex­empt from the ex­pan­sion draft.

The board's nine-mem­ber ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee rec­om­mended pro­ceed­ing with the ex­pan­sion ap­pli­ca­tion back in Oc­to­ber af­ter a pre­sen­ta­tion that in­cluded Bon­der­man, Bruck­heimer and Seat­tle Hockey Part­ners pres­i­dent and CEO Tod Lei­weke. Keyarena, which was home to the NBA'S Su­person­ics be­fore they moved to Ok­la­homa City in 2008, is primed to un­dergo a mas­sive $800-mil­lion ren­o­va­tion.

A ground-break­ing cer­e­mony is sched­uled for Wed­nes­day in down­town Seat­tle. Af­ter the NHL said it would con­sider the po­ten­tial own­er­ship group's ex­pan­sion ap­pli­ca­tion at this time last year, a sea­son-ticket drive to gauge in­ter­est re­sulted in a jaw-drop­ping 32,000 de­posits, in­clud­ing 10,000 pur­chased in the first 12 min­utes.

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