Team and city officials in Seattle have already secured more than 30,000 season-ticket deposits and received approvals from local government for arena plans.
The NHL Board of Directors on Tuesday awarded an expansion franchise to Seattle, where the league's 32nd team will play games at a redeveloped KeyArena beginning in the 2021-22 season, just a few blocks away from Amazon's headquarters and offices of other tech giants such as Google and Facebook. Seattle's franchise will join the league starting with the 2021-22 season. The Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division, meaning that all four league divisions will balance with eight teams each.
"Seattle's one of the fastest-growing cities in the country", NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said recently.
"Today is an exciting and historic day for our League as we expand to one of North America's most innovative, attractive and fastest-growing cities", said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said during a press conference. The committee voted 9-0 to recommend and forward the bid to the league's full board of governors. The Golden Knights began play a year ago and made a surprising run to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season.
Seattle, the 18th largest city in the United States, has not had a winter sports team since the NBA's SuperSonics left for Oklahoma City in 2008.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said at a watch party in Seattle: "I got a call from a mole in the room and it was a unanimous vote".
NHL Announces Expansion to Seattle for 2021-22 Season
"Today is a historic moment in Seattle sports history", said Leiweke, CEO of NHL Seattle.
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 US$650 million.
"They've always felt that we should have a little more time to build the arena right", Bruckheimer said.
Tippett could feel the excitement building when he was back in Arizona over the Thanksgiving holiday, noting that people told him on the golf course they hoped Seattle would get a team.
Seattle will benefit from the same expansion draft rules Vegas had. The ownership group, the plans for the arena - it's all of the above.
While Seattle basks in the news, it's not clear the National Hockey League will be satisfied at 32 teams even with the new team providing balance between the conferences and a natural, cross-border rival for the Vancouver Canucks. He said simply that expansion is appropriate when it adds value to the league.
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