NHL Goes West, Bringing an Expansion Hockey Franchise to Seattle

The National Hockey League increased its western conference footprint Tuesday, announcing a Seattle expansion team.

The decision to add the city as its 32nd franchise was done so by a unanimous vote by the NHL Board of Governors, giving the green light for the Pacific Northwest team to compete in the 2021-22 season.

The team’s $650 million expansion fee will be paid by Seattle’s ownership group led by private equity CEO David Bonderman, the league said in a press release. The fee is $150 million more than that paid by the Vegas Golden Knights, which played their first season in the NHL in 2017-18.

The yet-to-be-named team will play in the Seattle Center Arena, and the ownership company isn’t wasting time on a facelift for their home rink–$800 million in renovations, which were pending NHL approval, is set to begin on Wednesday.

Seattle already has a handful of pro teams, including the NFL’s Seahawks, MLB’s Mariners and MLS’s Sounders.

But does it have a hockey fanbase?

Early signs point to yes. In March, the Oak View Group tested this by setting out a goal of offering deposits for 10,000 season tickets–a goal that was reached in 12 minutes, the Seattle Times reports.

Seattle has never had an NHL team, but they do have a Stanley Cup to their name. According to the NHL, the Seattle Metropolitans, who played in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association, won the cup in 1917.

The Seattle team marks the NHL’s second expansion in three years, which Bettman says is attributed to the league’s strength and stability.

“Our game is more exciting, entertaining and competitive than ever, and the pool of talented players is deeper and wider than ever,” Bettman said in a statement.