The NHL could command up to $1.2 billion to add a second franchise in Toronto, according to a report from TSN.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said the league is not considering expansion, but expansion will be discussed during the NHL board of governors meetings later this month, according to the report.
Five investment bankers who advise NHL teams said they believe the league would eventually consider offers for a new team in Toronto, but they disagreed on how high the bidding for the team would go.
The bankers, who collectively have advised both buyers and sellers of NHL teams, as well as owners who have sought new limited partners, said bidding for a new team in Toronto would begin around $800 million. Opinion was split on how high the bidding might go. Three of the bankers said they could see the auction reach $1.2 billion. The other two doubted the bidding would eclipse $1 billion.
"In an auction situation, I could see it getting to $1 billion or even $1.2 billion," said Drew Dorweiler, a Montreal economist who has been hired by the owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Manchester United and other sports teams to estimate their franchise values. "An NHL team in Toronto is a marquee property."
A November 2013 report from Forbes valued the Toronto Maple Leafs as the most valuable franchise in the league, at $1.15 billion.
The $700 million paid by the Houston Texans to join the NFL currently stands as the largest expansion fee in the history of North American pro sports.
- Chris Johnson