Seattle invited to apply for NHL expansion team, commissioner says

MANALAPAN, Fla. -- Seattle has been invited to apply for NHL expansion, commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday.

The NHL's price for Seattle's expansion bid: $650 million.

"It is envisioned that the terms of an expansion agreement, would it go forward, would basically be the same as Las Vegas -- except the price," Bettman said, speaking at the league's Board of Governors meeting. "If we decide for whatever reason for the 2020 season, instead of expanding, using an existing franchise, that's always an option. But that's not something we're focused on right now. Because we're not anticipating anybody moving right now."

The Vegas Golden Knights joined the NHL this season, after paying $500 million in fees.

The NHL's Board of Governors also approved Seattle's prospective ownership group -- the Oak View Group -- to conduct a season-ticket drive to gauge interest in the area.

"You'll all handicap the likelihood of it being successful or not," Bettman said. "I can't stop that speculation."

On Monday, the Seattle City Council approved a memorandum of understanding for the privately financed Oak View Group to move forward with a $660 million remodeling of Key Arena, paving the way for potential NBA and NHL franchises. The NHL has long coveted Seattle, but the city never had a singular ownership group or arena, which hindered its chances -- until now.

The Oak View Group is led by investment banker David Bonderman, Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Tim Leiweke, a former Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs executive.

The state-of-the-art arena is expected to be ready no later than fall 2020. Deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the goal would be for Seattle to enter the NHL in the 2020-21 season.

The NHL is currently at an uneven 31 franchises.

Houston had been a rumored NHL expansion site, but Bettman said Monday there was "nothing going on right now" with that city.

Some of that speculation had centered around Dallas businessman Tom Dundon's purchase of a controlling interest in the Carolina Hurricanes.

Bettman stressed that a condition of the sale is for the Hurricanes to remain in Raleigh, North Carolina, despite Dundon's ties to Texas.

"This is not a team that is being moved," Bettman said. The rumors that it might be moving somewhere else are absolutely incorrect, made up, fabrications, wrong, wrong, wrong. The club is not going anywhere with Mr. Dundon's purchase."