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NHL approves Seattle expansion for ’21-22 season

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WATCH ABOVE: NHL approves expansion to Seattle for 2021-22 season – Dec 4, 2018

The NHL is coming to Seattle.

READ MORE: Sorry, Quebec City: Loonie, geography blamed for NHL team deferral

League commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement on Tuesday at a press conference following the conclusion of the board of governors meetings.

The NHL’s 32nd team was unanimously approved in a vote and will begin play in 2021-22.

Seattle’s ownership group led by billionaire David Bonderman and a number of minority partners, including Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, will pay an expansion fee of $US650 million.

WATCH: Seattle NHL expansion team will follow same expansion rules as Vegas

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Seattle NHL expansion team will follow same expansion rules as Vegas – Dec 4, 2018

The Vegas Golden Knights paid $500 million when they joined the league in 2016.

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Seattle will play in the Pacific Division, meaning the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division.

READ MORE: NHL expected to vote ‘yes’ on Seattle expansion for 2021-22 season

The new team gives the NHL an even 16 franchises in the Eastern and Western conferences and will provide the Vancouver Canucks a natural geographic rival for the first time.

Viewed as a slam dunk ahead of the vote, expansion to Seattle – the largest U.S. market without an NHL or NBA team prior to today’s announcement – required 75 per cent approval, in this case a thumbs up from 24 of 31 owners, to pass.

The $650-million expansion fee will be divided up between 30 NHL teams. Vegas does not get a cut of the money and is exempt from the expansion draft.

WATCH: Seattle has taken a big step towards having an NHL team, and an instant rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks. Squire Barnes has more. (Aired Oct. 2, 2018)

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Squire Barnes on a possible Seattle NHL franchise – Oct 2, 2018

The board’s nine-member executive committee recommended proceeding with the expansion application back in October after a presentation that included Bonderman, Bruckheimer and Seattle Hockey Partners president and CEO Tod Leiweke. KeyArena, which was home to the NBA’s SuperSonics before they moved to Oklahoma City in 2008, is primed to undergo a massive $700-million renovation.

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A ground-breaking ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday in downtown Seattle.

WATCH: Seattle gets NHL franchise, Vancouver gets instant rivalry

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Seattle gets NHL franchise, Vancouver gets instant rivalry – Dec 4, 2018

After the NHL said it would consider the potential ownership group’s expansion application at this time last year, a season-ticket drive to gauge interest resulted in a jaw dropping 32,000 deposits, including 10,000 purchased in the first 12 minutes.

There are also plans to build a $70-million practice facility.

WATCH: NHL will open Seattle franchise in 2021

Click to play video: 'NHL will open Seattle franchise in 2021' NHL will open Seattle franchise in 2021
NHL will open Seattle franchise in 2021 – Dec 4, 2018

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