Seattle is getting an National Hockey League team

Credit GAZETTE STAFF  Caroline O’Connor

Credit GAZETTE STAFF Caroline O’Connor

The NHL will add a 32nd franchise in Seattle, the league announced Tuesday after a unanimous vote by the board of governors.

Seattle must choose a minimum of 20 players under contract for the 2021-22 regular season and those with an aggregate Expansion Draft value that is between 60-100 percent of the prior season's upper limit for the salary cap.

The NHL's newest franchise will join Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners and the WNBA's Seattle Storm in the city.

With the expansion, the $800 million Seattle Arena expansion project will break ground on Wednesday. For comparison, the Vegas Golden Knights paid a fee of $500 million two years ago. That exceeds the goal of 10,000 deposits - which was reached in the first 12 minutes.

The nine-member executive committee that heard Seattle's presentation in October voted unanimously to move the matter to the full board, which is meeting in Georgia. The group led by majority owner David Bonderman, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and president and CEO Tod Leiweke had been hoping for play to begin in 2020.

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"Today is an exciting and historic day for our League as we expand to one of North America's most innovative, lovely and fastest-growing cities", Bettman said. KeyArena will be gutted, essentially resulting in a brand new stadium at Seattle Center, in the shadows of the Space Needle.

"And we are thrilled that Seattle, a city with a proud hockey history that includes being the home for the first American team ever to win the Stanley Cup, is finally joining the NHL".

An expansion draft will take place in June 2021, Bettman said, under the same rules that favoured the Vegas Golden Knights' entry into the league.

The $650-million expansion fee will be divided up between 30 National Hockey League teams.

A Seattle franchise would mean the addition of a 16th team to the Western Conference, matching the number in the East.

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