NHL Board of Governors Approve Seattle Expansion Team

Workers place temporary “under construction” signage on KeyArena. Matt M. McKnight Crosscut

Seattle is expected to join the league for the 2021-2022 season.

League commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement on Tuesday at a press conference following the conclusion of the board of governors meetings.

On Tuesday, the league's board of governors unanimously voted to approve Seattle as the 32nd NHL franchise.

The NHL had been at 30 teams since 2000 before deciding to expand to Las Vegas in 2016.

As the 32 team, the arrival of Seattle allows the NHL to finally balance out the league's four divisions.

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.

Bettman explained the new franchise will be stocked under the same rules as the ones that were in place for the league's 31st expansion team - the Vegas Golden Knights.

The NHL also announced divisional realignment, which will go into effect once Seattle begins play.

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"On top of everything else, Seattle is a city with a hockey history, that includes being the home for the first American team ever to win the Stanley Cup", Bettman said.

For perspective, it took Vegas two days to hit 5,000 and 18 months to get to 16,000.

KeyArena is now undergoing a multi million dollar renovation.

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

The board's nine-member executive committee recommended proceeding with the expansion application back in October after a presentation that included Bonderman, Bruckheimer and Leiweke.

With the expansion, the $800 million Seattle Arena expansion project will break ground on Wednesday.

The NHL Seattle group reached its goal of 10,000 deposits in 12 minutes when a season-ticket drive launched on March 1.

The as-yet unnamed franchise will be the Emerald City's first major winter sports team since the NBA's SuperSonics left town in 2008.

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