A group led by Connecticut investment banker Ray Bartoszek will formally apply to the NHL to acquire an expansion team for Tukwila, Wash., just south of Seattle, reports The Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker.
Bartoszek’s group, RLB Holdings Sports and Entertainment, is seeking to build a multi-purpose arena in Tukwila and is competing against the rival group led by entrepreneur Chris Hansen that is planning an arena for Seattle’s sodo district.
RLB Holdings first stated its intention to build an arena in April. The group is putting together an environmental-impact assessment of the proposal, the Times reports. If it can account for existing Union Pacific Railroad tracks and power lines near the proposed arena location, Tukwila has said it would consider fast-tracking the proposal. That would allow Bartoszek’s group to possibly get permission to build the stadium by early next year.
Hansen’s proposal passed a final environmental impact statement in early May, an achievement Seattle mayor Ed Murray called “another major milestone” before saying Hansen’s group must come up with a funding proposal by this fall. Hansen has an agreement with Tukwila and King County for as much as $200 million in bond funds if Hansen is able to get both a NBA team and a NHL team on board together, although the deal does not include a provision for a “NHL first” scenario.
The Times reports Las Vegas is considered a frontrunner to land an expansion team, although the league is expected to add at least two teams to balance the Eastern and Western Conferences. Groups with NHL interests in Quebec City and suburban Toronto are also expected to seek expansion franchises.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has said the league will accept formal expansion bids beginning July 6 and conclude the review process by Aug. 10. New teams would have to pay an expansion fee of at least $500 million and would not begin play until the 2017–2018 season.
Bettman has also said Seattle needs to have a substantial arena plan and financing secured before the NHL would consider granting the city an expansion franchise.
- Mike Fiammetta