NHL moves forward with expansion bids from only Las Vegas and Quebec City

NHL moves forward with expansion bids from only Las Vegas and Quebec City

If you want an NHL team in your city,  you can’t just have an arena. You can’t just have an owner. You need both. At least that’s the message the league sent Tuesday. 

The NHL announced it has indeed received expansion applications from two cities by Monday’s deadline and as reported earlier they are Quebec City and Las Vegas.

Overall, the NHL said it received requests from 16 groups for applications. Yikes, that’s a really low percentage of city/arena/ownership groups.

The league put forth a strongly-worded statement saying it will move forward with those two cities and indicated it will not wait on the Seattle area, which couldn’t put together a credible bid in time. The fee for a bid was $10 million, $2 million of which was non-refundable. 

“Our purpose, in initiating the expansion process in the manner we did, was not only to explore the possibility of admitting new members to the NHL but also, at the outset, to set realistic guideposts to distinguish between bona fide expressions of interest (i.e., those which have at least substantial ownership capabilities and an arena or the realistic possibility of an arena) from those indications of potential interest which were, at best, merely hopes or aspirations. Apparently, only (Las Vegas potential owner Bill) Foley and Quebecor have the confidence in their ability to secure an arena and suitable ownership capability to move forward with this process.

“We now intend to focus exclusively on the two expansion applications that have been submitted in accordance with the previously announced process. The process we have outlined for qualified applicants includes at least two more stages of documentation submission. We will provide no further updates until there is something substantive to announce.” 

The league sent out the applications on July 6, though it had been talking about expansion for quite some time. Last February Las Vegas started a season ticket drive for the 2016-17 season and recently hit over 13,000 deposits.

The Toronto area and Portland were the other two bids that seemed to have some PR behind them, but never materialized. The others? Kansas City perhaps? Houston? Procter, Minnesota?

Does this mean Seattle’s hopes for expansion are indeed done by missing this deadline?

Via the NHL’s logic, they will only go with possible owners with interest who can secure an arena. Seattle does not include both while Las Vegas and Quebec City have ownership capabilities and arenas that should be ready by 2017-18, when expansion teams are targeted to begin play. 

For Seattle, there were three rumored possible bids, one by Connecticut-based investment banker Ray Bartoszek in the suburb of Tukwila in the city’s Transit Oriented Development district. But he reportedly could not meet the NHL’s deadline, though he will still work on a proposal for an arena. 

The NHL seems to prefer arenas in downtown arenas in major metro areas, and Tukwila is about 11 miles from downtown Seattle.  

Los Angeles businessman Victor Coleman was trying to get a deal with Chris Hansen’s SoDo District Arena in Seattle. But that arena will only get approved if the NBA comes back to Seattle. Oh politics …  

And there was the Bellevue Washington bid, which didn’t seem to have much cred to it.

The NHL creates the rules in this process. The league has wanted Seattle for quite some time. Seattle and Las Vegas would even out the conference imbalance in the league, and expand the NHL’s footprint in the Pacific Northwest – a sports crazy area of the United States.

Also, with the rapidly falling Canadian dollar, would it be wise to put a team in Quebec City again? We’re almost 20 years removed from when the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix and the Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver. How much has changed since then?

A lot actually with teams moving from the United States back to Winnipeg for example. But expansion for the NHL needs to be a long-term solution not a short-term cash grab. The league has said fees should start at about $500 million.  

The NHL has methodically gone about this process trying to find a stable ownership/arena duo. Their statement Tuesday still shows that they’re not willing to take this decision lightly. 

- - - - - - -

Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!