Seattle lands NHL expansion team starting in 2021-22 season
Hockey is heading to the Pacific Northwest.
The NHL Board of Governors on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve expansion to Seattle, with the league's 32nd team set to start play in the 2021-22 season.
"Today is an exciting and historic day for our league as we expand to one of North America’s most innovative, beautiful and fastest-growing cities," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said.
"We are delighted to add David Bonderman, Tod Leiweke and the entire NHL Seattle group to the National Hockey League family. And we are thrilled that Seattle, a city with a proud hockey history that includes being the home for the first American team ever to win the Stanley Cup, is finally joining the NHL."
The nine-member executive committee that heard Seattle's presentation in October voted unanimously to move the decision to the full board, which required a three-quarters vote of the 31 owners to pass.
“Today is a historic moment in Seattle sports history," Leiweke, the team's president and CEO, said in a statement. "Our fans are at the core of this movement to bring an NHL team to Seattle and today we celebrate in honor of them.”
The expansion fee will be $650 million, up from the $500 million the Vegas Golden Knights paid to enter the NHL last season. KeyArena, the former home of the NBA's SuperSonics before they relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008, is expected to be ready by 2020 after being renovated and retrofitted to NHL specifications.
A team in Seattle — which will play in the Pacific Division, with the Coyotes moving to the Central — brings balance to the Eastern and Western Conferences at 16 teams apiece.