Seattle is officially getting its NHL hockey franchise, which will join the league as its 32nd team for the 2021-22 season after the NHL's Board of Governors unanimously approved the addition Tuesday morning. 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. The team will look to build on the success of the Golden Knights, which became the first National Hockey League expansion team to reach the Stanley Cup Finals last season.
Seattle will play in the Pacific Division, meaning the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division.
A team in Seattle balances the Eastern and Western Conferences at 16 teams apiece, but also requires realignment to even out the Central and Pacific Divisions. The cost for league entry will be $650 million, up 30 percent from the $500 million paid by the Vegas Golden Knights to enter the NHL last season.
"Today is an exciting and historic day for our League as we expand to one of North America's most innovative, handsome and fastest-growing cities", NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
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The new NHL Seattle franchise will play in the Pacific Division with Las Vegas and Vancouver.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan took a bit of the suspense away by making the announcement to the crowd about 10 minutes before the official word came from Commissioner Gary Bettman.
That's a sign revenues are continuing to rise after the success of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. Four team names advanced to the final few rounds of voting, with two going head-to-head in the fourth and final round. Preliminary work has been underway on the arena since an agreement between Oak View Group and the city of Seattle was finalized in late September, but the heavy work can now get started.
WATCH BELOW: Seattle Hockey Partners video on KeyArena renovations.
The NHL's launch in Seattle will show how starved fans are for another team. Next steps will include moving forward on arena and practice facility plans and piecing together a hockey operations department that Tippett will likely be in charge of. Believe it or not, there are no permanent public ice rinks inside the Seattle city limits, but that will change with the training center, which will feature a grand total of three rinks.