Just days after the Seattle City Council approved a $600 million renovation of KeyArena, a long-speculated future home of hockey, the NHL has granted Seattle permission to apply for an expansion team.
"A Seattle ownership group has been authorized to file an application for an NHL expansion team, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday," the league announced. "The cost of the team would be $650 million, and commissioner Bettman said the NHL is looking at only Seattle for possible expansion."
The news simultaneously puts Seattle on the fast track to bringing the NHL its 32nd franchise and silences related rumors of a potential NHL home in Houston or Quebec City, at least through expansion rather than relocation. Bettman had already confirmed that Seattle, its City Council and a prospective team ownership group were interested in bringing pro hockey to the city, but opening the doors for an actual expansion application and season-ticket drive is the green light that could make the story a reality.
David Bonderman, a Boston Celtics minority owner and private equity CEO, is among the group of prospective team owners that drew Bettman's support, the NHL said Thursday. He was previously spotted meeting with Seattle City Council members, who voted 7-1 to approve KeyArena renovations this week, in order to discuss the redevelopment of that property into NHL-ready space. The group also includes movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer, of "Pirates of the Caribbean" fame.
Mayor Jenny Durkan: “We are bringing the #NHL to #Seattle!” It was a unanimous vote at board of govs meeting. #NHLtoSeattle @KIRO7Seattle pic.twitter.com/rx82KYvlgA— Gary Horcher (@GaryKIRO7) December 8, 2017
It will take $650 million to finalize a team in Seattle, Bettman announced. And while the city doesn't have a history in the NHL, its own Metropolitans franchise, part of the now-defunct Pacific Coast Hockey Association, captured the Stanley Cup in 1917.
The NHL, of course, isn't a stranger to recent expansion. The upstart Vegas Golden Knights are playing their inaugural season this year after being approved at the cost of $500 million.