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Seattle group files application for NHL expansion team to play at KeyArena

  • Author: Geoff Baker, The Seattle Times
  • Updated: February 13
  • Published February 13

A group led by billionaire David Bonderman and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer on Tuesday filed an application for an NHL expansion team to play at a revamped KeyArena.

The Bonderman and Bruckheimer duo, part of the Los Angeles-based Oak View Group that plans a $600 million renovation of the arena, also included a $10 million fee to the league as part of its application. OVG hopes to have the 56-year-old arena renovated in time for the 2020-21 hockey season.

A league source confirmed the application and payment was made and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan later put out a tweet saying the bid had been filed. Durkan has been outspoken since taking office in November about her desire to bring winter sports back to the city.

OVG officials could not immediately be reached for comment. The NHL announced in December that it would accept an expansion application from Seattle — setting an expansion team price at $650 million — and also authorize a season ticket drive to begin at some point this year.

It had been expected that drive would begin as early as January. Details have yet to be forthcoming but are expected shortly now that the expansion application has been filed.

The last time the league authorized a season ticket drive ahead of franchise approval was in February 2015, when Las Vegas began accepting refundable deposits on seats. At the time, the Bill Foley-led expansion group set a target of 10,000 season ticket deposits and hit that target in a little more than a month's time.

An expansion team was awarded to Las Vegas in 2016 and the Vegas Golden Knights began play as the league's 31st franchise this current season. It has been widely suspected the league was holding a place for a Seattle team to become the 32nd franchise once an arena deal was secured in this city.

That happened last December, as the Seattle City Council formally approved OVG plans for the $600 million renovation. Two days later, the NHL announced it would accept an expansion application from a Seattle NHL group.

OVG first must obtain a final environmental impact statement (EIS) ahead of any construction beginning. That EIS is expected to be complete later this year, allowing for a two-year construction timeframe ahead of opening the NHL season by October 2020.

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