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Seattle expansion tops Board of Governors agenda

Meeting, starting Monday, could see NHL add 32nd team

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- The NHL Board of Governors is scheduled to vote on the Seattle expansion application Tuesday, the second of its two days of meetings in Sea Island, Georgia.

Twenty-four of the 31 NHL teams need to vote "Yes" for Seattle to become the 32nd team. If so, the NHL is expected to make an announcement immediately following the vote.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the expansion process has gone according to plan.

"Everything has proceeded at pace," Deputy Commissioner Daly said. "The [Board of Governors] executive committee had a discussion after the presentation was made to them [by the Seattle applicant group] on Oct. 2. They had some questions. They had some comments. We followed up on the questions and comments and got the appropriate feedback from the Seattle applicant group, so everything is on track."

Prior to the vote, the Board of Governors will hear a verbal report of the executive committee's findings. There will be time built in for discussion, if necessary, Deputy Commissioner Daly said. The vote on the application will follow.

"I'm very optimistic that the ownership is going to vote to give Seattle the franchise and it's going to be the beginning of a very long run of a world-class team," Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said. "I'll just add I'm looking forward to getting the Stanley Cup back in Seattle."

The Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association defeated the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey Association 3-1 in the best-of-5 1917 Stanley Cup Final to become the first United States-based team to host a Stanley Cup Final game and the first to raise the Stanley Cup.

Members of the Seattle applicant group are expected to be present at the meeting but will not be making any further presentations.

The group is led by prospective owners David Bonderman, a private equity CEO; and Jerry Bruckheimer, a Hollywood producer.

Tod Leiweke is the CEO and president of the Seattle group. He is formerly the CEO of the NFL, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the NFL's Seattle Seahawks, and Major League Soccer's Seattle Sounders. Leiweke also worked for the Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks.

His brother, Tim, is the CEO of Oak View Group, the company spearheading a $700 million renovation of KeyArena, which will be the home of the Seattle team.

"There's still some weeks before Christmas, but you have that feeling of, I hope that what's under the tree is what we think and I can't wait to wake up that day," Tod Leiweke said. "It's a dream come true personally, but I think more than that, it's a dream come true for 32,000 [season ticket] depositors. And I came [to Seattle] because I love hockey, but I really came here because I love the fans. And these fans here have been so fantastic to me with the Seahawks and with the Sounders. They really took the big first leap of faith. Before we had a team, before we had people here, before we had an agreement on an arena, and certainly before we were awarded a team, they believed. And we owe them. And so I can't wait to deliver for them."

Deputy Commissioner Daly said the NHL has not heard anything negative from Board members about the Seattle expansion application.

"There are questions, but I wouldn't say anything raising to the level of concerns," Deputy Commissioner Daly said.

Through research and due diligence, the NHL found what it expected to in Seattle: a growing market with expanding opportunities in professional sports, Deputy Commissioner Daly said.

"Our initial feeling was that it would be a positive demographic analysis and it has certainly turned out to be that," Deputy Commissioner Daly said. "It's a growing, vibrant, young market economy that supports professional sports."

The Board will also hear other reports across its two days of meetings, including from the NHL regarding the evolution of the sports betting market; the impact of social media and a push for more player engagement; and on the games played in China, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden and Finland this season.

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