Las Vegas, Quebec City NHL expansion bids advance to Phase 2

Las Vegas and Quebec City are moving on to the second of three phases in their bids to land NHL expansion franchises, the respective groups announced Wednesday.

Bill Foley, who heads the Las Vegas bid, issued a statement on his group's website, ''Vegas Wants Hockey,'' that the league has invited it to advance. Quebecor, a Montreal-based communications giant, announced on its Twitter account that its Quebec City bid is moving forward.

Foley said Phase 2 will feature bidders providing the NHL additional information regarding their respective markets and arena plans. The bidders will also gain access to certain league-related information.

The Las Vegas group has already secured more than 13,200 season-ticket deposits for a potential team. And there's a multipurpose arena under construction near the Las Vegas Strip and set to open next spring.

In Quebec City, the publicly funded, 18,259-seat Videotron Centre is set to open next month. It replaces the small and outdated Colisee, which previously served home to the NHL's Nordiques, who relocated to Colorado to become the Avalanche in 1995. Quebecor manages and owns the naming rights to the new arena.

There is a third phase to the process, though it's unclear when that will begin. Bids must also be approved by the NHL Board of Governors.

The NHL isn't expected to expand until 2017-18 at the earliest. Commissioner Gary Bettman has proposed an expansion fee of $500 million. That's a significant jump from the $80 million fee paid by the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild, when the NHL last expanded to 30 teams in 2000.

Las Vegas and Quebec City were the only expansion applications out of 16 accepted by the NHL last month.

As part of their applications, the two groups were required to submit a $10 million down payment, $2 million of which was nonrefundable.

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