Hockey is back in Seattle! Almost 100 years following the end of the Seattle Metropolitans, the NHL announced today that it has awarded an expansion franchise to Seattle. The NHL’s 32nd franchise was approved in a unanimous vote by the NHL Board of Governors. This will be Seattle’s first winter sports team since the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics left in 2008.
NHL Seattle initially planned to begin play in 2020-21, however, that has now been pushed to 2021-22. Delaying the launch was due to uncertainty over the construction timeline of the new arena at Seattle Center. The extra year allows for the arena to be completed in time for the franchise’s inaugural season and more time to complete the $70 million practice facility at Northgate.
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In anticipation of the vote, NHL Seattle hosted a Decision Day for Seattle Expansion event this morning at Henry’s Tavern in South Lake Union for fans to celebrate. Back in March, NHL held a season ticket drive which garnered 25,000 deposits within the first hour, surpassing the goal of 10,000 (which was met in the first 12 minutes). The new arena’s seating is set to accommodate 17,000.
Groundbreaking on the new arena will be held tomorrow, December 5, at 3 p.m. The arena is now scheduled to open around March/April of 2021–in time for the beginning of the Seattle Storm’s 2021 season and the new NHL Seattle franchise to follow later that year.