North American ice hockey league the NHL has said it will focus exclusively on proposals for expansion franchises received from groups in Las Vegas and Quebec City after confirming it has received two applications from an initial 16 expressions of interest.
The NHL yesterday (Tuesday) confirmed the news after reports on Monday stated that only the US and Canadian cities met that day’s deadline for proceeding in the expansion process. Canadian media company Quebecor confirmed its intentions on Monday by stating on its Twitter account that it submitted its “candidacy for the NHL expansion process in order to bring the Nordiques back to Quebec City.” The Nordiques moved to Denver ahead of the 1995-96 season and are now known as the Colorado Avalanche.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas Hockey Vision, the group led by Bill Foley that includes the Maloof family, also formally submitted a bid. Foley has filed the application under the name Black Knight Sports and Entertainment LLC. A Las Vegas NHL team would compete in the new arena being built by AEG and MGM Resorts on the Las Vegas Strip.
NHL expansion applications were made available to all potentially interested applicants on July 6. Commenting on the closure of the initial phase, the league said in a statement: “We can confirm that we have received two applications: one from Bill Foley for a franchise in Las Vegas, Nevada, and one from Quebecor for a franchise in Quebec City, Quebec.
“Our purpose, in initiating the expansion process in the manner we did, was not only to explore the possibility of admitting new members to the NHL but also, at the outset, to set realistic guideposts to distinguish between bona fide expressions of interest (i.e., those which have at least substantial ownership capabilities and an arena or the realistic possibility of an arena) from those indications of potential interest which were, at best, merely hopes or aspirations. Apparently, only Mr. Foley and Quebecor have the confidence in their ability to secure an arena and suitable ownership capability to move forward with this process.
“We now intend to focus exclusively on the two expansion applications that have been submitted in accordance with the previously announced process. The process we have outlined for qualified applicants includes at least two more stages of documentation submission. We will provide no further updates until there is something substantive to announce.”
In an effort to establish serious interest, the NHL stipulated that prospective owners were to submit a $10m (€9.1m) down-payment by Monday’s deadline, with $2m of it being non-refundable. However there is no guarantee that the NHL will proceed with expansion.
An expansion fee of around $500m is being targeted for any new franchise, with the earliest an expansion team could commence operations being the 2017-18 season. The NHL has been comprised of 30 teams since the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild began play in 2000, with those ownership groups paying $80m each for their franchises.