Seattle takes another step toward joining NHL

(Reuters) – Seattle moved a step closer to becoming the National Hockey League’s 32nd franchise on Tuesday when the NHL executive board unanimously recommended to send the expansion bid to the board of governors for a vote.

FILE PHOTO: Jun 22, 2018; Dallas, TX, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks in the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

Seattle Hockey Partners CEO Tod Leiweke, majority owner billionaire David Bonderman and Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan were part of a group to make a two hour presentation to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the executive committee at the league’s Manhattan headquarters.

The presentation highlighted the renovation of the KeyArena and a run on season ticket deposits.

The board of governors could vote on whether to award Seattle a franchise at league meetings set for Dec. 3-4.

“The executive committee met this morning with the representatives of the potential Seattle expansion franchise,” said Bettman in a statement on the NHL’s Twitter account.

“They did an excellent job supporting the application and presenting a case for Seattle.

“The conclusion and the recommendation of the executive committee, which was presented to the board of governors, was to proceed with the application.

“The goal would be to finalize any open details, create a formal report and have this ready for consideration and potential approval at the December board meeting.”

If approved Seattle hopes to enter the league for the 2020-21 season.

When a Seattle team hits the ice, however, will hinge on the $700 million renovation of the arena which is on hold until the ownership group receives approval or guarantees from the NHL.

Another roadblock to a 2020 start could be negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

Players and owners can opt out of the current deal next September.

“If everything can be accomplished, 2020-21 would be the goal,” said Bettman. “If not, then we’ll go with 2021-22 but I think everybody’s preference would sooner rather than later.”

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis

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