The NHL has announced that the league will indeed bring their latest expansion franchise into the great Northwest of America. The 32nd NHL franchise will be heading to Seattle, Washington starting in the 2021-22 season. The new team, yet to be named or given a logo, will play in the NHL’s Western Conference and will bump the Arizona Coyotes to the Central division as the new team takes the Coyotes spot in the Pacific division. The new team in Seattle was unanimously approved by the NHL’s board of governors.
Seattle’s ownership group led by billionaire David Bonderman and a number of minority partners, including Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, will pay an expansion fee of $650 million. The team’s president and CEO is Tod Leiweke, a man who has held executive positions with the Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canucks, Seattle Seahawks, Sounders FC and former CEO/Minority Owner of Tampa Bay Sports & Entertainment, the home of Tampa Bay Lightning, the Tampa Bay Storm, Tampa Bay Times Forum.
Here’s an official announcement from the league that was made by commissioner Gary Bettman at the board of governors meetings press conference on Tuesday.
Ownership of the Seattle franchise will principally reside with David Bonderman. The franchise will play its home games at Seattle Center Arena, which is currently undergoing renovations.
The Seattle franchise will pay a $650-million expansion fee. That fee will be distributed in equal shares to 30 of the NHL’s presently existing clubs (all except Vegas, which entered the League with an expansion fee of $500 million in 2017-18).
“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.”
Other details regarding the Seattle expansion franchise – including a timeline for the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, percentages for the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery and the 2021-22 schedule matrix – will be announced at a later date.
The city of Seattle has been an underrated sports city for a long time and this is just another step in the right direction towards getting all four major sports back in the Emerald City. It has been long rumored that the key to the city getting the NBA back would be getting funding for the KeyArena and a strong turnout for the hockey team when they announced sales for the season tickets. Both things came with relative ease. The Mariners are currently about to undergo a rebuild, the Seahawks are making a push for a return to the postseason and with a new hockey team, the only thing left is a return for the long rumored NBA return to the city.
Here’s a little background on the fan and front office excitement about the hockey team coming to the city.