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Seattle closer to arena deal; NHL expansion vote possible in December

If approved franchise could begin play in 2020-21 or 2021-22

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The group looking to bring an NHL expansion team to Seattle announced Wednesday it has taken steps to secure an arena deal with the city.

"Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and the Oak View Group today announced critical steps forward to renovate Seattle's new Seattle Center Arena (formerly known as KeyArena)," Seattle Hockey Partners said a release. "These steps support an upcoming presentation to the executive committee of the Board of Governors for the National Hockey League on Oct. 2, 2018. Three key agreements -- a development agreement for the new arena, a long-term lease agreement, and an integration agreement -- were transmitted by Mayor Durkan and introduced for the Seattle City Council for their consideration."

December is the earliest the NHL Board of Governors will vote on the potential expansion, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said Thursday.

"We would have the vote in person," Daly said referring to the annual December meeting.

The group also announced it had added local investors, including Andy Jassy, CEO for Amazon Web Services; Adrian Hanauer, owner of Seattle's Major League Soccer team; and Christopher and Ted Ackerley, whose father, Barry Ackerley, owned the Seattle SuperSonics of the NBA.

The potential ownership group, led by Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer and private equity CEO David Bonderman, is hoping to be ready to begin play in the 2020-21 NHL season as its 32nd team, but Daly said it's more realistic to target the 2021-22 season. The expansion fee would be $650 million, up from the $500 million the Vegas Golden Knights paid to enter the NHL last season.

"After long and detailed negotiations with the City of Seattle, we are pleased that these agreements, critical to redevelopment of the new Seattle Center Arena, are moving forward to the City Council for consideration," Bonderman said. "We want to thank the city team for their hard work. In the end, we reached a common agreement that we believe works for all sides."

Following an NHL Board of Governors meeting in Las Vegas on June 20, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said the process to bring an NHL expansion team to Seattle remained ongoing without any setbacks but with no timetable for it to be completed.

Commissioner Bettman said there was optimism for a team in Seattle to be playing by the 2020-21 NHL season provided the expansion process continued without any issues, but much of that depended on the already approved $600 million renovation of KeyArena, the former home of the NBA's Seattle team before it relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008.

"The timetable on finishing the application and doing what we need to do, we can do that as quickly or as slowly as appropriate," Commissioner Bettman said then. "That's a matter of weeks and months, not years. The bigger issue is going to be their timeline on the building."

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