National Hockey League approves Seattle team backed by billionaire Bonderman for 2021 season

NHL votes to give expansion franchise to Seattle

NHL approves Seattle expansion franchise, set to begin play in 2021 nearby Amazon campus

Barr said he's heard from numerous fans interested in learning more about the game as the 2021 start date approaches. Preliminary work has been underway on the arena since an agreement between Oak View Group and the city of Seattle was finalized in late September, but the heavy work can now get started.

The first season is a year later than many had hoped, largely because of concerns that arena renovations would not be done in time for the beginning of the 2020-21 National Hockey League season in October of 2020.

"We thought that it made the absolute most sense on a whole host of levels", Bettman said of Arizona's move to the Central.

Seattle President Tod Leiweke expects the arena to be ready and open in March or April of 2021. Seattle franchises nearly all have a shade of green included, so don't be surprised if that's part of the scheme.

The announcement came a few moments after Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan let the news slip at a watch party in Seattle, prompting cheers: "I got a call from a mole in the room and it was a unanimous vote".

"A second expansion in three years could only have even been considered, and ultimately approved by our board because our league is stronger and more stable than it has ever been", Bettman said.

The NHL is dealing with some uncertain situations as it prepares to finalize the Seattle expansion. Houston, Quebec City and Toronto have all been touted as possible new homes someday.

Commissioner Gary Bettman updated the Board of Governors on those topics Monday.

The Seattle Metropolitans of the PCHA and your 1917 Stanley Cup Champions
The Seattle Metropolitans of the PCHA and your 1917 Stanley Cup Champions

Play is expected to begin in 2021, depending on the progress of arena renovations for Seattle's first major winter sports team since the NBA's SuperSonics left town in 2008. Play would be expected to begin in the 2021-22 season.

Of course, the team has yet to decide on a name, and according co-owner Jerry Bruckheimer,"every name has a chance right now".

A three-quarters vote of the current 31 owners is needed to confirm Seattle as the league's newest franchise.

The board's nine-member executive committee recommended proceeding with the expansion application back in October after a presentation that included Bonderman, Bruckheimer and Leiweke.

Also as part of the expansion, the coyotes will move to the central division.

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.

Renovations to KeyArena, which will become the team's home, are scheduled for completion in the fall of 2020.

The new team will play in the Pacific Division of the NHL's Western Conference.

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