NHL Approves Seattle Expansion Team, First Winter Sports Franchise To Join City Since 2008
The NHL Board of Governors voted to approve a Seattle team as the league’s 32nd franchise on Tuesday. It will be the first winter sports franchise to join the city since the Seattle SuperSonics abandoned the city in 2008.
”Today is a day for celebration in a great city that adores and avidly supports its sports teams and for our 101-year-old sports league,” Commissioner Gary Bettman said. ”Expanding to Seattle makes the National Hockey League more balanced, even more whole and even more vibrant. A team in Seattle evens the number of teams in our two conferences, brings our geographic footprint into greater equilibrium and creates instant new rivalries out west, particularly between Seattle and Vancouver.”
The announcement of a possible NHL expansion team for Seattle first came in December 2017. The announcement comes just months after the Vegas Golden Knights reached the Stanley Cup Finals in their inaugural season. The Seattle Hockey partners group plans to have the team playing by 2021 after arena renovations are made. The renovations are expected to cost somewhere around $800 million, adding to the $650 million expansion fee the group already paid.
The move will shake up the alignment of divisions, however. Seattle will play in the Pacific, home to its closest geographic rivals like Vancouver, Calgary and San Jose. Because of this, the Arizona Coyotes will be moved to the Central Division.
”It was at the end of the day the simplest, most logical and least disruptive option we had available to us and I think it’ll work well for the Coyotes,” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said.
Seattle seems ripe for the expansion, with a downtown arena already constructed and a demand for season tickets that produced over 10,000 orders in just 12 minutes. No name has been chosen for the team as of yet, although one will surely be announced soon.