In 1917 hockey history was made when the Seattle Metropolitans beat the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the first U.S.-based team to win the Stanley Cup. Now, the city is set to become home to the 32nd franchise in the National Hockey League (NHL), beginning play in the Pacific Division in the 2021-22 season.
Last week on Dec. 4, the NHL’s board of governors gave Seattleites the chance to reclaim their position in the hockey world, when it unanimously approved Seattle’s expansion plan.
“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,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “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.”
In March, Seattle crushed the NHL’s deposit goal of 10,000 season tickets when that number was met in a mere 12 minutes. Currently the franchise holds 32,000 depositors for season tickets, showcasing the voluminous support and anticipated success the NHL is going to have with this approved expansion.
“Your statement of support in season ticket deposits and continued enthusiasm was heard loud and clear by the NHL,” said Co-Founder of the Oak View Group, NHL Seattle President and CEO Tod Leiweke.
One of the many key factors that went into the approval of the franchise expansion was the approval from the NHL of the proposed renovations for the Key arena located in the Queen Ann district.
The Oak View Group (OVG), founded by Tod Leiweke and Irving Azoff is footing the bill for the reconstruction of the Key Arena, set to be the home of the new (yet to be named) Seattle NHL team and other partners, such as entertainment company Live Nation.
Initially estimated at $600 million, the cost of construction is now at $800 million. Bettman commented on the issue of cost.
“When you include the cost of reimagining and building Seattle Center Arena, this is a transaction with a value of approximately $1.4 billion,” he said.
OVG has stated that any potential cost related to construction and arena operations, including the risk of unknown environmental cost, will be OVG’s responsibility, leaving the city and tax payers’ wallets out of it.
“We know that fans are going to be amazed at the new arena, our neighbors and community will be proud, and we can’t wait to open the doors in time for the Seattle Storm to begin its 2021 season, with the inaugural NHL Seattle season soon to follow,” Leiweke said.
OVG said it will pay $40 million to be put into a transportation fund that would be under the administration of the city to address traffic issues and concerns. With more than 100 potential events between the WNBA’s Seattle Storm and the new hockey team, the arena and surrounding business district was a critical part in this expansion approval. The area could see a bigger influx of traffic, diners and shoppers if an NBA team returns to the city.
There is a lot of change happening in the Emerald City. With a promising future of expansional growth, groups like OVG are setting the groundwork for what taking action can do for not only companies, but communities as well.
“It’s not just about hockey. It’s about all the other events that’ll come. Today is a day of hope, promise … and we got a lot of hard work in front of us,” Leiweke said.
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