"Seattle's one of the fastest-growing cities in the country", NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said recently.
The news means that Seattle will have a representative in three of the four U.S. major leagues, with the Seattle NHL outfit set to join the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League (NFL) and the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball (MLB), along with the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer (MLS).
"I think what we saw with the season ticket uptake in Seattle when they wanted to get a team shows that they're going to have a huge number of fans", he added. "Might have got a little watery eyed there", said Barr, who has headed up the NHLtoSeattle.com website and been a voice for hockey fans in Seattle. Preliminary work has been underway on the arena since an agreement between Oak View Group and the city of Seattle was finalized in late September, but the heavy work can now get started.
Seattle Hockey President and CEO Tod Leiweke joked that he'd have to throw out some Seattle 2020 business cards because of the pushed-back timing.
The belief at the moment is that the arena will be ready to open for concerts and the WNBA Storm in the spring of 2021, starting the revenue stream that must pay off construction debt over the 39-year length of the lease. "But this is a few bits of change which aren't around anymore". "Seattle is one of my favorite cities and it's a pleasure to be here. If it were someplace else, I wouldn't have done it".
The new Seattle team will join the Pacific Division in the Western Conference, with the Arizona Coyotes moving to the Central Division.
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"And all things being concluded, not the least of which, believe it or not, the Coyotes draw better against Central Division teams than they do against Pacific Division teams, we thought it made the most sense when we looked at all the other conceivable possibilities".
Expect the expansion draft in June 2021 to play out similarly to the Vegas Expansion Draft in 2017 where each of the 31 teams will lose a player from an unprotected list.
According to Emily Kaplan of ESPN, no one seems to mind that Seattle will play with the same rules previously offered to a team which went to the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season. The venue was built in 1962 and will undergo an $800 million renovation, a project that delayed the team joining the league until 2021.
Seattle already has a handful of pro teams, including the NFL's Seahawks, MLB's Mariners and MLS's Sounders.
Tippett joined Seattle as an advisor after 14 seasons as an National Hockey League head coach with the Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes. Even when he was running the Seahawks, Leiweke believed Seattle was ripe for the National Hockey League and the response to the season-ticket drive only strengthened that belief.