“If someone (from Seattle) wanted to give us an application right now, we wouldn’t take it,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Saturday at his state-of-the-league news conference.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman insisted Saturday that Seattle is not in the running to land an expansion team.
“If someone wanted to give us an application right now, we wouldn’t take it,” Bettman said at his state-of-the-league news conference.
Las Vegas and Quebec City have submitted expansion applications, but a decision whether to grant both, either or neither city an NHL franchise does not appear to be imminent.
“The process is continuing,” Bettman said. “We’re not ready to make a recommendation.”
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Bettman said a 10-owner executive committee will eventually suggest whether the league should add two teams, one or none.
Expansion was barely addressed at the NHL Board of Governors meeting Saturday morning after it was discussed extensively in December. Bettman bristled at a suggestion that the league is struggling to decide whether to expand.
“We’re going through an orderly process,” Bettman said. “This is a very important decision. A lot of things have to be considered.”
Bettman acknowledged he doesn’t know whether the weakening Canadian dollar will be a factor in Quebec City’s bid.
Martin Tremblay, spokesman for Montreal-based communications giant Quebecor, declined to comment on the process. A message seeking comment was left for Michelle Kersch, spokeswoman for the Bill Foley’s Black Knight Sports & Entertainment in Las Vegas.
The Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver in 1995, becoming the Colorado Avalanche. Las Vegas has never had a major pro sports team.
Seattle arena investor Chris Hansen, who has an agreement with the city and King County through 2017 for a downtown arena, has been focused on getting an NBA team back. Hansen and Los Angeles businessman Victor Coleman have tried to come to an agreement on how to make an NHL-first package work in order to get a shovel in the ground to begin building a facility.
“As things stand right now, there’s no prospect of an arena in greater Seattle,” Bettman said.
Bettman has proposed an expansion fee of $500 million, a significant jump from the $80 million fee paid by the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild, when the NHL last expanded to 30 teams in 2000.
The 2017-18 season would be the earliest the league would expand, and Bettman and the owners aren’t feeling pressure to make a decision.
“We’re not running a 60-minute game where the clock is going to run out,” he said.