The Latest: Seattle fans cheer NHL announcement, wait begins
SEA ISLAND, Ga. (AP) - The Latest from the National Hockey League's Board of Governors meeting, where expansion to Seattle was on the agenda. (all times Eastern):
John Barr has been the voice of the fans longing for hockey in Seattle. He says he got a little emotional when league Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the NHL had approved Seattle as the 32nd franchise, even though the move seemed to be a foregone conclusion.
Barr said he's heard from numerous fans interested in learning more about the game as the 2021 start date approaches.
One question for the future will be how the Seattle ownership group keeps momentum and interest moving forward, especially with the start date for the team pushed back a year.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says it was an easy decision to approve Seattle expansion for 2021, not 2020, because of concerns about when downtown arena renovations will be done.
Bettman says the notion of the arena being done in time for the start of the 2020-21 season was doubtful at best.
Seattle President Tod Leiweke expects the arena to be ready and open in March or April of 2021.
Fans at a downtown Seattle bar erupted with cheers following the announcement that the city was being awarded the 32nd NHL franchise.
There was a hint of disappointment since the date to start play was pushed back to 2021-22.
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.
Commissioner Gary Bettman has announced the NHL is expanding to Seattle beginning in the 2021-22 season.
Bettman said the vote by the Board of Governors was unanimous, pointing out how expansion to Seattle balances out the conferences, gives the NHL a footprint in the U.S. Pacific Northwest and provides the nearby Vancouver Canucks with a natural rival.
The NHL Board of Governors has voted unanimously to approve expansion to Seattle.
Twenty-four of 31 votes were needed to award the league's 32nd franchise to the Emerald City. Commissioner Gary Bettman is expected to make the formal announcement at noon Eastern.
Play is expected to begin in 2021, depending on the progress of arena renovations for Seattle's first major winter sports team since the NBA's SuperSonics left town in 2008.
The NHL Board of Governors is meeting to give final approval to Seattle's bid to add the league's 32nd team. Play would be expected to begin in the 2021-22 season.
Representatives of Seattle Hockey Partners, including majority owner David Bonderman, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and president and CEO Tod Leiweke are at the seaside Georgia resort of Sea Island.
A three-quarters vote of the current 31 owners is needed to confirm Seattle as the league's newest franchise. The nine-member executive committee that heard Seattle's presentation in October voted unanimously to move the matter to the full board.
If Seattle is approved as expected, a realignment plan would likely move the Arizona Coyotes from the Pacific into the Central Division in the new 16-team Western Conference.
The NHL Board of Governors is expected to approve expansion to Seattle, with the league's 32nd team beginning play in the 2021-22 season.
A three-quarters vote of the current 31 owners is needed to confirm Seattle as the league's newest franchise. 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 vote is expected on Tuesday.
Seattle Hockey Partners will pay NHL owners $650 million to join. 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, but uncertainty over completing arena renovations in time means Seattle will have to wait another year for the return of a major winter sports team.
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. Many expect the Arizona Coyotes to be moved to the Central Division in 2021 when Seattle enters the league.
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
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