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Seattle enters bid for NHL expansion franchise

Seattle enters bid for NHL expansion franchise

By: SportBusiness International team

Posted:
14 Feb 2018
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Oak View Group (OVG), which is seeking to bring an NHL team to Seattle, has filed an official application for an expansion franchise in the North American ice hockey league, with plans to base the team at a refurbished KeyArena in the Washington city.

According to the Seattle Times newspaper, the bid group, led by billionaire David Bonderman and film producer Jerry Bruckheimer, sent the application, as well as a $10m (€8.1m) fee to the league yesterday (Tuesday).

OVG has said that if Seattle is successful in its bid, it will spend $600m to renovate the city’s 56-year-old KeyArena (pictured) in time for a potential debut season in 2020-21.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan confirmed the bid in a post on her official Twitter page, while an NHL source also told the Times the league had received both the application and payment.

OVG chief executive Tim Leiweke released a statement to confirm the move. He said: “We are excited for the next steps in the process and our continued partnership with the City of Seattle.”

The application comes after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in December said that the league would consider Seattle as a location for an expansion franchise. At the time, Bettman said no other cities were being considered as part of the process.

The Las Vegas Golden Knights is the NHL’s newest franchise, having entered the competition at the start of the 2017-18 season. Golden Knights owner Bill Foley paid an expansion fee of $500m to form a franchise in Las Vegas, which has enjoyed a successful start to its maiden campaign.

Seattle has been set a $650m expansion fee by the NHL. Seattle City Council’s MoU with OVG commits the firm to a 39-year lease with two, eight-year renewal options for a total of up to 55 years. OVG also agreed to contribute $600m to the project and cover all cost overruns associated with the development. 

KeyArena currently serves as the home of WNBA women’s basketball team the Seattle Storm and Seattle University’s Redhawks men’s basketball team. The venue was previously home to NBA team the Seattle Supersonics, which relocated to Oklahoma City ahead of the 2008-09 season.

It is hoped that renovation work on the arena will begin towards the end of 2018, with a provisional reopening date having been set for October 2020.

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