NHL: Seattle to start first steps of expansion process

NHL: Seattle to start first steps of expansion process

It’s been a wild week pertaining to the future of professional sports in the Emerald City. More importantly, it’s been a fairly interesting week for the future of the NHL expansion.

It just became that much more interesting.

According to reports, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that the Board of Governors has agreed to accept and consider Seattle as a potential target for an NHL expansion Thursday as seen in NHL Insider Pierre LeBrun’s tweet.

It was also reported via numerous outlets that Seattle is currently the only city that is being considered as a site for a future NHL franchise. The news comes just days after the city took a giant leap forward in the process. Earlier this week, the Seattle City Council approved a 7-1 vote for $600 million in renovations for KeyArena. Just a day after it was passed, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan signed the Memorandum of Understanding, solidifying its stance on being an intriguing target for the NHL.

The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported that Seattle franchise fee will be a pretty penny. In fact, $650 million. This year, the Vegas Golden Knights paid $500 million in franchise fees. In the meantime, Bettman will allow the David Bonderman/Jerry Bruckheimer group to conduct a season ticket drive.

“That doesn’t mean we have granted an expansion team. We have agreed as a league to take and consider an expansion application and to let them run in the next few months a season-ticket drive.” 

— NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

As for the thoughts from the other 31 owners entertaining the idea of a franchise in Seattle, King5’s Chris Daniels tweeted the following:

The NHL made it known that Seattle is viewed as a site for expansion, not relocation largely due to Bettman believing that there are currently no teams in the NHL close to moving. This despite rumors swirling around the Calgary Flames, Arizona Coyotes and the New York Islanders and their current issues with their respective arenas.

The application will be considered for the 2020-2021 season with the renovations to the arena tentatively set for completion in 2020. According to King5’s Chris Daniels, Travis Pittman and Liza Javier, Seattle council member Deborah Juarez hopes the team can be named the Steelheads or Sockeyes.

All up to Seattle now

It’s all hands on deck for NHL fans in the Emerald City.

With the passing of the arena renovations and the NHL already announcing its interest in potential expansion to the city, it has to be proven that if the NHL were to formally award the city a franchise, that it would be able to have stability. What could help Seattle is the geographical rivalry that could be created with the Vancouver Canucks, roughly three hours from the city?

The first step in doing that is the season ticket drive that has been allowed to be conducted. To put it into perspective, Vegas conducted its drive in February 2015 and sold more than 5,000 in two days according to the franchise. In a month, the Golden Knights sold 9,000.

However, if the Emerald City is as fired out about the possibility of receiving an NHL franchise as their Mayor, then it should be a breeze.

What does this mean for Quebec City?

As of right now, it’s pretty much the nail in the coffin for a few years. If Seattle is able to prove that it would be able to sustain an NHL franchise, the NHL would jump all over that. Simple reasoning is that it would allow for a rebalancing of the conferences and per reports, that has been one of the deciding factors. NHL.com’s Dan Rosen tweeted the following Thursday evening that could be a sign of the door staying cracked in Quebec City:

As of now, the hopes of an NHL expansion is right for Seattle.

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Joshua Zimmer
Josh Zimmer is the Lead NFL Draft analyst for NGSC Sports as well as serving as a contributor for NHL coverage.

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