Bettman Drops the Green Flag: NHL Expansion Race Is On
They're right on schedule.
Only the price tag has changed. Upwards, of course.
The inevitability was such that the Commish just kinda tacked it on to his statement of things to come:
Now, it's just a matter of discovering who wants to pony up the $500million or so to be admitted to the club.
Las Vegas is a no-brainer at this point. Season tix are at 13,300 and counting, a privately-financed arena will be ready by this time next year, and prospective owner Bill Foley is no doubt drinking buddies with the Bettster by now.
The league has all but begged Seattle to get its act together. The interest is there; to this day, the only time this site has crashed was when first word of the NHL's intentions for the Emerald City leaked out. The site's servers have been reinforced, but Seattle's position still has too many moving parts.
While geography and metro size are about all Seattle has to offer at the moment, Québec City's concern could be the exchange rate. Their coin of the realm is on a roller coaster, crashing with oil prices as well as rising with them, too. Not that Québecor and its mega-loonies should mind.
Then there's, Toronto. The self-proclaimed center of the hockey universe.
It's beyond question that the support's surely there for a second team, if for no other reason that it might significantly reduce the number of pucked-up masochists in the metro area, and the Leafs would still have legions of fans left to wonder what they'd ever do if the team actually won something.
However, the metro-area locals seem to have wised up and wondered why deep-pocketed dudes like Graeme Roustan can't build his own playpen. Until he agrees, he's probably on the outside looking in.
The dark horses include Portland. Paul Allen and his Microsoft dosh would be accepted in a heartbeat, but he balked at putting the then-bankrupt Pittsburgh Penguins in his Rose Garden, and then he passed on an invitation to apply for an expansion team during the last go-round.
Seems like if Allen did want a second major tenant in his arena, he'd want one that doesn't come with an entry fee.
Maybe the Coyotes after they've lost enough money in Phoenix.
For the moment, the NHL's ideal scenario seems to be Las Vegas and Seattle. Otherwise, it's looking at Québec City and a divisional realignment that's not so East-West oriented.
What is certain: the current governors will be splitting a cool $1billion for saying yes twice.
Just like they planned, only better.