Hours after Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan met with the NHL and expressed interest in bringing a team to her city for the 2020-21 season, the league has reciprocated a desire for hockey in Seattle, announcing it will vote in December on whether to officially bring an expansion franchise to Washington.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told the media Tuesday night that the league's Executive Committee, which met with Durkan earlier in the day, has recommended the NHL's Board of Governors vote in early December to advance Seattle's expansion process.
"If everything can be accomplished, 2020-21 would be the goal," Bettman said in a statement, referring to the potential team's NHL start date. "If not, then we'll go with 2021-22. But I think everybody's preference would be sooner rather than later."
Durkan and the Oak View Group, which is behind $700-million, made their case for the NHL in town at the Executive Committee meeting. And Durkan told reporters afterward not only that Seattle wants an expansion team in the league by 2020 but that the NHL "wants that, too" -- a sentiment confirmed by Bettman's announcement.
Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan says they want to open play in 2020 and says the NHL "wants that, too."— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 2, 2018
The Oak View Group and Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan met with the NHL’s Executive Committee this morning at the league offices in NYC.— Complete Hockey News (@CompleteHkyNews) October 2, 2018
An expansion vote for Seattle could be held as early as December with the plan for play to start in 2020/21. pic.twitter.com/CU5E3ZTTpc
David Bonderman, a billionaire businessman and part of the Seattle team's prospective ownership group, met the media alongside Durkan earlier Tuesday and will still have to wait for the NHL's Board of Governors to confirm the formation of a 32nd team. Up to this point, however, along with Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke and other leaders of the Seattle contingent, the group has generated substantial interest in bringing the NHL to their city.
A year after the league introduced the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, the Seattle City Council has to KeyArena, which the Oak View Group said would be NHL-ready by October 2020. Bonderman, Leiweke and Co. also claimed, after a in March, that they hit their goal of 10,000 deposits in just 12 minutes. Durkan, meanwhile, has repeatedly pledged support for the NHL putting a team in KeyArena, which used to host the NBA's Seattle SuperSonics.
Even Washington's governor has, once suggesting the team already has a name picked out.