The NHL could have an expansion team in Seattle as early as 2020 if everything goes to plan. On Tuesday, Gary Bettman, the league's commissioner, announced that the Board of Governor's executive committee gave the green light for the application. The only hurdle that remains will be in December when the committee meets again to admit the team into the league. All Seattle needs is to submit a final report and hope for approval from at least 24 of the NHL's 32 members of the committee.
According to Sportsnet, if that happens, the NHL will have 32 teams, with Seattle playing in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. Not only will the addition balance both the Eastern and Western Conferences, Seattle will also likely become a major rival for the nearby Vancouver Canucks.
Stumbling blocks include what will happen to Seattle's KeyArena, a facility built in 1962 and seats slightly more than 15,000 for a hockey game. Despite a series of renovations to the arena, Bettman stressed that the building has to either be upgraded even more or demolished to make way for a more modern arena. Back in September, Seattle's city council earmarked $700 million to renovate the facility.
To fund those changes, the Seattle ownership team—which includes Hollywood film producer Jerry Bruckheimer—launched a season ticket deposit campaign where more than 10,000 ducats were sold in 12 minutes. The tally has since jumped to 32,000. Seattle also has an option to ice a team in 2012 if recommendations aren't in place.
It also helped that the success of the Las Vegas Golden Knights had a sterling debut in its inaugural season back in 2017 as the team enjoyed massive sellouts at home games, many bought by vacationing Canadians looking for action beyond what was available in the casinos. Las Vegas managed to get a franchise on the strength of a similar ticket deposit drive.
This isn't the first time Seattle has been mentioned as a possible franchise entry. Back in 2012, Edmonton Oilers owner Darryl Katz threatened to move the team to Seattle if the team was unable to strike an agreement with city council to build a new arena. After a lengthy series of squabbles between the two parties, the Oilers managed to get a deal and moved into Rogers Place in 2016.