clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NHL could announce Seattle franchise next year after arena deal approved, per report

KeyArena’s renovation could be huge news for hockey.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Pac-12 Conference Tournament Championship-UCLA vs Oregon State Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL could award its first franchise to the city of Seattle in the coming months after the city council on Monday approved a $600 million renovation for KeyArena, reports the Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker. There’s no guarantee it happens yet, per The Athletic, but this is a major step toward NHL expansion to the Pacific Northwest.

The team could come from an existing team relocating to Seattle or adding a 32nd franchise. The report names the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes, a pair of teams with ongoing arena concerns, as potential candidates to move in the near future. An announcement for the future of hockey in Seattle is expected by July.

The Seattle city council voted 7-1 on Monday to approve the new memorandum of understanding with the Oak View Group of Seattle to renovate KeyArena, which has been open since 1962. The renovations are expected to be finished by 2020, which could be the prospective date for the arrival of an NHL team.

The city also hopes to lure an NBA team back to the city to replace the Supersonics, but the main priority is to add a hockey team at this point.

There are currently 31 teams in the NHL after the expansion to Las Vegas with the Golden Knights this season. Owner Bill Foley paid a $500 million fee to the league to establish its 31st franchise.

It sounds like a potential Seattle owner may need to pay an even larger expansion fee, however, as Sportsnet recently reported that figure could rise to $600-700 million. The alternative would be relocation of a team like the Flames or Coyotes that doesn’t have a clear future in its current arena.

Other cities, including Quebec City and Houston, have been vying to get an NHL team. The owner of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, Tilman Fertitta, recently met with league officials about the possibility of purchasing a team. Quebec City built the Videotron Centre, which opened in 2012, and players said in a poll earlier this year that they preferred that city to Seattle for a new team.

There are various reasons that a team in Seattle would appeal the NHL. Not only would it expand the league’s American footprint to a new region, but it would help the conferences after the addition of the Golden Knights.

It’s important to note that a memorandum of understanding is not necessarily legally binding. There are still zoning requirements that will need to be met during construction, and things could always fall through. The new plan still needs to be approved by mayor Jenny Durkan. That’s before even getting to whether a successful arena renovation ensures the NHL will actually be moving to Seattle. There needs to be an ownership group and a deal with the league.

But the possibility grows with the vote by the city council Monday, and that’s an exciting development for fans who would love to see the NHL in Seattle for the first time.