NHL Unanimously Approves Seattle; Team Will Start Play In '21-22
The NHL this morning unanimously approved Seattle as the league's 32nd franchise during the BOG meeting in Sea Island, Ga. The team will begin play in the '21-22 season at a renovated KeyArena. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman called today an "exciting day" for the league and noted it is "thrilled" to add Seattle. Bettman: "Today is a day of celebration in a great city that adores and avidly supports its sports teams." Bettman confirmed the expansion fee for the Seattle ownership group, which will be led by David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer, is $650M. An expansion draft will take place in June '21 "under the same rules" that were in place for the Golden Knights when they entered the league in '17. The Golden Knights will not participate in the expansion draft. NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke said the $850M renovation of KeyArena will begin tomorrow (Sportsnet, 12/4). In Seattle, Geoff Baker notes the group had desired to start play in the '20-21 season. However, Leiweke said that the team will "use the added time to ensure fans are given a first-class product." He said, "We went back and forth on it for weeks. In the end, they figured ‘Why risk it? Do you really want your team to start on the road? Have your team play all of its home games at the arena they’re going to call home" (SEATTLETIMES.com, 12/4).