SEATTLE, WA (CelebrityAccess) — Starting in 2021, Seattle will become the next North American city with its own National Hockey League team.
On Tuesday, the NHL Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve Seattle as the host city for the league’s 32nd franchise. The franchise will be in the league’s Pacific Division with the Arizona Coyotes moving to the Central Division.
“Today is a day for celebration in a great city that adores and avidly supports its sports teams and for our 101-year-old sports league,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.
Seattle’s ownership group, led by David Bonderman, a private equity CEO, will pay a $650 million expansion fee, which is $150 million more than Bill Foley and his group paid to bring the Vegas Golden Knights into the NHL for the 2017-18 season.
The Seattle team will play at Seattle Center Arena, formerly known as KeyArena. However, instead of debuting in 2020 as initially planned, the yet-to-be-named team will take to the ice in the 2021-2022 season while the arena undergoes extensive upgrades.
The capacity for an NHL game at Seattle Center Arena will be approximately 17,400.
“We believe it’ll be one of the finest arenas in the world,” NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke said.
KeyArena opened in 1962 and was the home of the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics from 1967-78 and 1985-2008 prior to them relocating to Oklahoma City for the 2008-09 season. Seattle approved a renovation plan at the arena by the Oak View Group, a consortium led by former AEG CEO Tim Leiweke and veteran talent manager Irving Azoff.