Today is the day that Seattle will be awarded the NHL’s 32nd franchise.
The NHL is expected to make it official at the Board of Governors meeting in Sea Island, Georgia at 9 am PT / 12 pm ET. Owners will vote on awarding a franchise, with Seattle needing 24 of 31 teams on their side. The expectation is they’ll receive full support, after the NHL Executive Committee unanimously recommended them in October.
“They did an excellent job supporting the application and presenting a case for Seattle,” said commissioner Gary Bettman at the time. “The recommendation of the Executive Committee, which was presented to the Board of Governors, was to proceed with the application.”
Seattle has checked every box the NHL could ever want since their city council approved a new $700 million arena project last year. They officially applied for a team three days later.
The prospective ownership group began refundable season ticket deposits of $500 to $1,000 each on March 1. The NHL wanted to see them sell at least 10,000 of them, which they sold in 12 minutes. After an hour, they had sold 25,000. They eventually capped deposits at 32,000, and now have a waiting list.
For perspective, it took Vegas two days to hit 5,000 and 18 months to get to 16,000.
The expansion fee for Seattle will be $650 million, up from the $500 million price tag the Golden Knights paid when they entered the league.
The Emerald City has everything going for it, including some semblance of a hockey culture as a longtime home to multiple WHL franchises in the area. Their city has even won a Stanley Cup, as the Seattle Metropolitans became the first American team to capture it in 1917.
With a metro population of approximately 3.8 million people, Seattle is the largest city in the United States without both an NHL and an NBA team since the Sonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008. A fast-growing city that’s thriving economically, they’re the frontrunner to get the next NBA team up for grabs too.
The only thing left to decide is what year the new Seattle franchise will begin play. Their preference is 2020, but the league may opt for 2021 in case of delays in the renovation of KeyArena.