Seattle NHL expansion approved


Seattle is home to the NHL's 32nd team.

The NHL's Board of Governors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the expansion application from the NHL Seattle group to bring the yet-to-be named team into the League for the start of the 2021-22 season.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said "Today is a day for celebration in a great city that adores and avidly supports its sports teams and for our 101-year-old sports league." 

The Board of Governors also approved a realignment plan that will move the Arizona Coyotes into the Central Division, making way for Seattle to play in the Pacific Division.

This move will balance the divisions giving both the Pacific and Central Division eight teams; The Coyotes will remain in the Pacific until the 2021-22 season.

"Expanding to Seattle makes the National Hockey League more balanced, even more whole and even more vibrant," Commissioner Bettman said. "A team in Seattle evens the number of teams in our two conferences, brings our geographic footprint into greater equilibrium and creates instant new rivalries out west, particularly between Seattle and Vancouver."

The Seattle team will play at Seattle Center Arena, the former KeyArena. The capacity for an NHL game at Seattle Center Arena will be approximately 17,400.

The Seattle ownership group will break ground on a privately financed $800 million renovation of the arena Wednesday, NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke said. The renovation project was awaiting NHL approval of the expansion team before it could begin.

"We believe it'll be one of the finest arenas in the world," Leiweke said. 

The geographic rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks is another element of the expansion to Seattle that was so enticing for the League.

Commissioner Bettman said Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini has mentioned to him many times how impactful a geographic rivalry with Seattle will be for Vancouver.

"Seattle is a great sports city and we can't wait to ignite a true regional rivalry west of the Rockies for Canucks fans," Aquilini said in a statement Tuesday. "It's going to be a lot of fun."

Leiweke's words to Vancouver were, "bring it on."

Although Seattle has never had an NHL team, the Seattle Metropolitans, who played in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association from 1915-24, won the Stanley Cup in 1917, defeating the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in a best-of-5 series.

With this historical footnote in mind, ‘Metros’ has quickly become one of the most frequently suggested names for the new Seattle franchise.

We're particularly fond of the Metros uniform concept by Alex Birch Design.