NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the possibility of the league expanding could grow later this month in Las Vegas if the Board of Governors is willing to discuss the matter.
Las Vegas, Seattle and Quebec City have expressed interest in bringing NHL franchises to their cities. The league has not expanded since it added the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild for the 2000-01 season, which put the league at 30 teams.
Prospective NHL Las Vegas owner William Foley launched a ticket campaign earlier this year to determine if the city would be a viable place to house a franchise, and a 17,500-seat, $375 million facility is currently under construction on the Las Vegas Strip with hopes of opening the arena in April 2016.
Seattle also moved a step closer to potentially adding a team after a final environmental impact statement found no significant obstacles to block construction of a new proposed 18,000-seat arena to be located near Safeco Field, home of MLB’s Seattle Mariners.
“If after our discussion in June where I'm going to report where all of the expressions of interest stand, including what Las Vegas has been able to accomplish with the ticket drive, if the board has any interest in pursuing it, my recommendation would then be to open a formal expansion process,” Bettman said.
Bettman also said there is no guarantee that the league will expand and adds that he will take a more serious look at the potential owners looking to place franchises in those cities.
“And even if they green light a formal expansion process, doesn't mean we're going to expand. It means we'll go through the steps of looking through things, and the conclusion at the end of that process could be very well no expansion,” Bettman said.
- Scooby Axson
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