The NHL announced Tuesday that Seattle has been awarded an expansion franchise and will become the league’s 32nd team beginning in 2021-22. A board of governors vote held Tuesday morning unanimously confirmed awarding a franchise to an ownership group that includes CEO Tod Leiweke, Seattle Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
Commissioner Gary Bettman voiced his approval of Seattle getting a franchise in a press conference announcing the decision.
“Today is an exciting and historic day for our League as we expand to one of North America’s most innovative, beautiful and fastest-growing cities. We are delighted to add David Bonderman, Tod Leiweke and the entire NHL Seattle group to the National Hockey League family. And we are thrilled that Seattle, a city with a proud hockey history that includes being the home for the first American team ever to win the Stanley Cup, is finally joining the NHL.”
Fervor for hockey in Seattle reached a fever pitch earlier this year when the ownership group proved there was a appetite for hockey in the city by selling 10,000 season tickets in 12 minutes, and comes shortly after the city of Seattle approved $700M of private financing to renovate and modernize KeyArena, which served as the home to the Seattle SuperSonics until the team left in 2008.
The announcement of a new NHL team in Seattle leaves the NBA as the only professional sporting league without a presence in the city. Groups have pushed to bring the Sonics back to Seattle, but moves have been dormant since 2016 when hedge fun manager Chris Hansen was unable to reach an agreement with the city.
Today is a day for celebration in Seattle. Hockey is back after being absent for almost 100 years following the collapse of the Seattle Metropolitans in 1924. The team was the first U.S.-based team to win a Stanley Cup when Seattle beat Montreal in 1917, and with a city ready for more professional sports this is a dream come true.