October 2, 2018 / 10:04 PM / 18 days ago

Seattle recommended to receive expansion franchise

The NHL executive committee recommended Tuesday that Seattle receive an expansion franchise, according to commissioner Gary Bettman.

FILE PHOTO: Jun 22, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

Seattle Hockey Partners made a formal presentation in front of the committee on Tuesday. The vote was 9-0 in favor of Seattle being awarded an NHL franchise.

The NHL Board of Governors will vote on the matter during their meetings on Dec. 3 or 4. The expansion fee is $650 million.

“We are grateful to the Executive Committee for allowing us to make the case for Seattle to join the NHL as its 32nd franchise,” group president Tod Leiweke said afterward. “Today was another step toward realizing the dream of bringing an NHL franchise to Seattle.”

Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan and prospective hockey team owners David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer gave a two-hour presentation during the meeting in New York.

“Seattle sells itself,” Durkan said after the meeting. “We live in a great city, with the greatest fan base, and it’s growing faster than any city in America.”

In March, the group impressed the NHL by collecting more than 25,000 season-ticket deposits in just one hour.

In September, the city formally approved the demolition of KeyArena — the former home of the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics — with a plan to build a new arena on that site near the famous Space Needle. The facility will hold between 17,000 to 19,000, depending on the event.

The last public event at KeyArena is slated for Friday when the NBA’s Golden State Warriors play the Sacramento Kings. Warriors star Kevin Durant began his career with the SuperSonics before the franchise moved to Oklahoma City.

The hockey franchise is hoping to start play in 2020-21 now that the arena plan has been sorted out.

“They have a lot of work to do initially,” Bettman said. “They’ve got to stop using KeyArena, there’s some demolition, they’ve got to dig a bigger hole, they’ve got to put the steel in. Once that’s all accomplished, we’ll have a better sense. But everybody’s goal is 2020 if it can be accomplished. If it’s not, then we’ll do it in ‘21.”

The NHL recently expanded into Las Vegas for the 2017-18 season. Seattle would give the league 32 teams.

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