Seattle group files application for NHL expansion team to play at KeyArena

Feb. 14—A group led by billionaire David Bonderman and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer on Tuesday filed an application for an NHL expansion team to play at a revamped KeyArena.

The Bonderman and Bruckheimer duo, part of the Los Angeles based Oak View Group that plans a $600 million renovation of the arena, also included a $10 million fee to the league as part of its application. OVG hopes to have the 56-year-old arena renovated in time for the 2020-21 hockey season.

A league source confirmed the application and payment was made and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan later put out a tweet saying the bid had been filed. Durkan has been outspoken since taking office in November about her desire to bring winter sports back to the city.

Later on, OVG CEO Tim Leiweke put out a written statement confirming the application and adding: “We are excited for the next steps in the process and our continued partnership with the City of Seattle.”

The NHL announced in December that it would accept an expansion application from Seattle — setting an expansion team price at $650 million — and also authorize a season ticket drive to begin at some point this year. Leiweke’s statement did not address the ticket drive — initially expected to begin as early as January — or any future timeframe for it, though the finlization of the expansion application could soon lead to more clarity on that front.

OVG officials have been unable to provide any details on what the drive might entail in the two months since the league first referred to it.

The last time the league authorized a season ticket drive ahead of franchise approval was in February 2015, when a Las Vegas group began accepting refundable deposits for seats at the T-Mobile Arena. At the time, the Bill Foley-led expansion group set a target of 10,000 season ticket deposits and hit that goal in a little more than a month’s time.

An expansion team was awarded to Las Vegas in 2016 and the Vegas Golden Knights began play as the league’s 31st franchise this current season. It has been widely suspected the league was holding a place for a Seattle team to become the 32nd franchise once an arena deal was secured in this city.

That happened last December, as the Seattle City Council formally approved OVG plans for the $600 million KeyArena renovation. Two days later, the NHL announced it would accept an expansion application from a Seattle NHL group.

OVG first must obtain a final environmental impact statement (EIS) ahead of any construction beginning. That EIS is expected to be complete later this year, allowing for a two-year construction timeframe ahead of opening the NHL season by October 2020.

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