NHL board expected to approve Seattle expansion team

FILE PHOTO: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during an event in Beijing, China, March 30, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

The NHL Board of Governors is expected to approve Seattle’s bid to become the league’s 32nd franchise on Tuesday.

The team would begin play as early as the 2020-21 season, depending on the availability of its renovated downtown arena.

“Seattle’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the country,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said recently. “It gives us a geographic balance. It creates a nice geographic rivalry with Vancouver. I know Vancouver’s particularly excited about the possibility.

“The ownership group, the plans for the arena — it’s all of the above. It’s never one factor. If you’re going to have a successful expansion application, all of the bases need to be touched and all of them need to be checked off as being appropriate and right.”

The Board of Governors opened its annual two-day December meeting on Monday in Sea Island, Ga.

Team and city officials in Seattle have already secured more than 30,000 season-ticket deposits and received approvals from local government for arena plans. The renovations are scheduled to be done by the fall of 2020, but the NHL could push the team’s inaugural season back to 2021-22 to be safe.

“Right now everything we’ve done is kind of geared toward 2020,” Seattle Hockey Partners senior advisor Dave Tippett told the Associated Press. “If we can do it in 2020 (we will), but the other thing is you don’t want to start it being a month on the road or something, either.”

With a population of about 725,000 people, Seattle is currently the largest U.S. city without a major winter sports franchise. The NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics left Washington for Oklahoma City in 2008.

—Field Level Media

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