Seattle has officially applied to be the NHL’s 32nd team.
The paperwork — plus a $10 million down payment — arrived Tuesday, nearly two months after commissioner Gary Bettman authorized an ownership group, the Oak View Group, to conduct a season-ticket drive in Seattle and invited the city to apply for expansion. The league set the expansion fee at $650 million, a steep increase from the $500 million the Vegas Golden Knights paid to enter the league this season.
The goal is for the new franchise to enter the NHL for the 2020-21 season.
“It is envisioned that the terms of an expansion agreement, would it go forward, would basically be the same as Las Vegas — except the price,” Bettman said in December, speaking at the league’s board of governors meeting. “If we decide for whatever reason for the 2020 season, instead of expanding, using an existing franchise, that’s always an option. But that’s not something we’re focused on right now. Because we’re not anticipating anybody moving right now.”
The ticket drive should begin in the next few weeks and will determine whether the league accepts Seattle’s bid.
The NHL has long coveted Seattle, but the city never had a singular ownership group or arena, which hindered its chances — until now. In December, the Seattle City Council approved a memorandum of understanding for the privately financed Oak View Group to move forward with a $600 million remodeling of Key Arena, paving the way for potential NBA and NHL franchises.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said she has had talks with the Oak View Group about the possibility of bringing an NBA team to Seattle as well.
“I want to make sure whatever deal we negotiate on the arena will enhance the ability to get basketball, not deter it,” Durkan told ESPN in January. “I think we can do it.”
Seattle has a rich hockey history. The Pacific Coast Hockey Association’s Seattle Metropolitans were the first U.S. team to win the Stanley Cup, in 1917.