NHL says OVG partners can apply for an expansion franshise

That didn’t take long.

This afternoon the National Hockey League announced that a consortium was given permission to apply for an NHL expansion team to be located in Seattle.

The consortium of would-be owners includes David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer, both part of the Oak View Group partnership that just yesterday signed an MOU with the City of Seattle for the renovation and management of Key Arena to prepare it for hosting NBA and/or NHL teams.

If their application is accepted, the consortium would be required to pay the NHL $650 million for the new franchise.

From the NHL’s announcement:

Seattle became a viable option for an NHL team this week with the agreement between the city and Los Angeles-based Oak View Group for a privately financed $600 million renovation of KeyArena, which opened in 1962 and was the home of the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics from 1967-78, 1985-1994 and 1995-2008 before they relocated to Oklahoma City for the 2008-09 season.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding between the city and Oak View Group. The memorandum was approved by the Seattle City Council in a 7-1 vote Monday.

Commissioner Bettman said Bruckheimer and Bonderman approached the NHL this week to request permission to file an expansion application for a Seattle team. The Board of Governors approved the request Thursday.

“We now have an interested ownership group, we have a commitment on an arena, and we have a market we now have to explore,” Deputy Commissioner Daly said.

Commissioner Bettman, however, said he had no expectation for how long it would take for the Seattle group to submit its application and that even after it does, the League has to go through a long vetting process similar to what it did with Vegas.

That last point is important: Seattle hasn’t been granted a franchise (yet); it has only been granted permission to apply for one. But that alone is a very good sign of things to come.

Mayor Jenny Durkan, and Council member Debora Juarez issued a joint statement and held an impromptu press conference to celebrate the news. From their release:

“This is a good day for Seattle sports fans, our City, and our region’s economy.  The NHL’s announcement helps lays the foundation for a team in 2020 in Seattle’s redeveloped Key Arena. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, and I look forward to working with the community, the National Hockey League, and Oak View Group to bring a hockey team to Seattle exactly 100 years since our team won the Stanley Cup,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan.

“Seattle is ready! We are thrilled that the NHL Board of Governors took this major step towards bringing the best hockey in the world to our city. Seattle Center is on track to be a world-class venue for an NHL team and for tens of thousands of fans,” said Councilmember Juarez, Co-Chair of the Select Committee on Civic Arenas. “Go Seattle Steelheads! Go Seattle Sockeyes! Go Seattle Seawards!”

Along with preparing the application, the consortium will run a season ticket drive in order to demonstrate local support for an NHL team.

The NHL said that Seattle was the only city currently authorized to apply for an expansion team.