Seattle, Washington looks a good bet for NHL expansion


With the instant success of the Vegas Golden Knights this season it's understandable why the NHL is looking to expand once again. The best bet for the next expansion franchise is Seattle, Washington. The city recently held a season-ticket drive for a proposed team and sold 10,000 seats in just 12 minutes and reached well over the 25,000 mark a few days later. Let's compare this to the Vegas ticket drive three years ago which resulted in 5,000 deposits in 48 hours and 9,000 after a month. Just a few months later, Vegas was awarded with the league's 31st franchise and the team has been a huge success on the ice in its inaugural season.

It cost the Vegas owners $500 million for their franchise fee and the NHL has now upped this to $650 million. Vegas owners aren't complaining about the price tag though as the Golden Knights are already the most successful expansion team in North American pro sports history. Seattle fans have noticed how well Vegas has performed and this has given them hope and inspiration for a team of their own. If Seattle is awarded a franchise it will go about building its roster the same way Vegas did, which is through an expansion draft and it will follow the exact same format.

The expansion bid in Seattle is headed by the Oak View Group. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has been impressed with them so far as the city's Key Arena is to be renovated to the tune of $660-million. The group is led by Tim Leiweke, who used to have a high-ranking position with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in Toronto as well as with the ownership group of the Los Angeles Kings. Other notable members of the proposed Seattle ownership group are David Bonderman and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer with Bonderman already owning a portion of the Boston Celtics NBA team.

Bruckheimer was previously interested in pumping ownership money into both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks,but nothing became of it. In addition, Leiweke and Bonderman were once interested in a team in Las Vegas, but then pulled out about 10 years ago. There's already a rich hockey history in Seattle as Pacific Coast Hockey Association's Seattle Metropolitans were the first American team to hoist the Stanley Cup way back in 1917. The city was hoping the NHL or the old WHA would expand out west in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but NHL teams were awarded to Los Angeles, Oakland and Vancouver instead.

However, it looked like Seattle would get a franchise in 1974, but the ownership group couldn't raise enough money. Then in the 1990s things looked promising, but the application for a franchise was pulled by one of the prospective owners without his partners knowing about it. About 20 years later it appeared the Phoenix Coyotes were interested in relocating to Seattle, but City Council pulled the plug on the proposed arena lease. There has long been talk about a new arena in the city, but nothing has been built as of yet. It's also believed a new venue may be aimed at luring an NBA franchise by a different ownership group than the NHL bid.

Jenny Durkan, the current mayor of Seattle is all for an NHL team and it would join the ranks of the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders and Seattle Mariners as the city's pro sports franchises. There are also three local hockey teams in the area already which have been well supported over the years. These are the University of Washington Huskies, and the junior Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL. Also, the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area was recently ranked second by Forbes as the fastest-growing city in America.

With a region full of fans in place, a renovated arena and thousands of prospective season-ticket holders waiting to spend their money, the NHL would be missing a fantastic opportunity if it didn't expand to Seattle.