Just applying for an NHL expansion franchise is going to cost $10 million, with $2 million of that non-refundable. An NHL source confirmed Wednesday that the application fee is far higher than the $1 million that had been reported by media outlets in Canada and the U.S.

Share story

Just applying for a National Hockey League expansion franchise is going to cost any interested Seattle-area groups $10 million apiece — with $2 million of that non-refundable.

An NHL source confirmed Wednesday that the application fee is far higher than the $1 million previously reported by some media outlets. And the $2 million non-refundable part of it — while paling next to the $500 million the league wants for an actual expansion fee — is expected to be high enough to deter groups that might still be on the fence about hockey.

The league has sent applications to at least three Seattle-area groups. Those who received applications include Ray Bartoszek in Tukwila, Chris Hansen/Victor Coleman in Seattle’s Sodo District and at least one of two groups interested in putting a team in Bellevue.

One of the Bellevue groups involves longtime NHL/NBA “power broker’’ Jac Sperling, but it’s not known whether they asked the league for an application. Any groups must submit applications with the fee by July 20.

Cities beyond Seattle expected to apply include Las Vegas, Quebec City and a group seeking a second team in the Toronto area. The application fee will be deducted from the $500 million franchise price tag for the group awarded a team.

Those groups not receiving a team will get an $8 million refund.

News of the hefty application price tag comes as local groups scramble to organize finances ahead of the league’s deadline in less than two weeks. Payment of the fee is only the first step in a three-stage process that wraps up Aug. 10 and will see the league examine the financial strength of each group and its ability to pay the $500 million franchise pricetag.

In addition, the league wants evidence of a clear path toward a group acquiring an arena to play in. The Hansen group in Sodo faces questions about both of those issues.

Hansen and would-be NHL partner Coleman of Los Angeles have stepped up discussions on a financing plan that works for hockey in a Sodo arena. The two need such a plan to get the Seattle City Council to pass a resolution this fall paving the way for construction permits on a Sodo arena to be issued.

For now, Hansen has a deal with the city and county that provides up to $200 million in bond money if he lands an NBA team. But with no NBA and only NHL, the deal needs to be modified, and Mayor Ed Murray has told Hansen that can’t happen without more private money for the project.

In Bartoszek’s case, questions linger about his group’s ability to pay $1 billion combined for an arena and team. But a local source said Thursday that Bartoszek continues to have discussions with potential Seattle-area investors and is close to striking a deal.

Bartoszek has already told investors he’ll put at least $100 million of his own money into the venture and is also receiving financing from Citibank.

Expenses for the Bartoszek group have been minimal and land acquisition limited mainly to the purchase of future options to build.

The NHL’s application fee will raise the price tag significantly, which is what the league wants as it tries to separate contenders and pretenders.