LAS VEGAS -- The process to bring an NHL expansion team to Seattle remains ongoing without any setbacks to date but with no timetable for it to be completed, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said following the Board of Governors meeting here Wednesday.
Commissioner Bettman said there is optimism for a team in Seattle to be playing by the 2020-21 NHL season provided the expansion process continues without any issues, but much of that depends 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 earliest the Board of Governors would vote on an expansion team in Seattle would be in September, when it next meets.
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"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. "That's a matter of weeks and months, not years. The bigger issue is going to be their timeline on the building."
An ownership group led by Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer and private equity CEO David Bonderman officially filed an application for expansion with the NHL in February with the intention of beginning play in 2020-21. The expansion fee would be $650 million, up from the $500 million the Vegas Golden Knights paid to enter the NHL this season.
Streamlined goalie equipment
The Board of Governors approved changes recommended by the NHL-NHLPA Competition Committee to streamline the goaltenders' chest protector and arm protectors, Commissioner Bettman said.
The changes are scheduled to be implemented next season.
"Slim it down, make it more form fitting, less extra material and coverage," Commissioner Bettman said. "Keep them safe but not give them extra protection against the puck going in the net."
Esports offer opportunity
Commissioner Bettman said the Board was given an update on the 2018 NHL Gaming World Championship at Esports Arena Las Vegas, won by European champion Erik "Eki" Tammenpaa.
Commissioner Bettman said the Board sees a lot of potential in esports to grow the NHL fanbase.
"I'm not going to announce now about what the future initiatives look like, but using esports as a way to connect young people who are particularly interested in video gaming to our game we think is the most important focus we could be doing in the esports space," he said.