Columnist: NHL expansion fee may be too expensive for Seattle

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As multiple groups attempt to get an arena built in the Seattle area in the hopes of luring an NHL franchise the expansion fee is an “overlooked item” causing problems according to Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times.

The expansion fee the NHL would demand is in the neighborhood of $500 million.

“Franchise values in all sports have been increasing rather dramatically,” Gary Bettman told Baker recently. “From your question, you seem to be inferring that that would be a lot of money for an NHL team. I happen to believe that that number — not that I’m confirming or denying it — would be not a lot of money.

“I think NHL franchises should be worth at least that much.”

Here’s more from Baker’s piece:

It’s one reason Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has yet to receive an “NHL first” plan from Sodo builder Chris Hansen that “pencils out” financially. Also, it’s why skeptical eyes are now on Tukwila arena builder Ray Bartoszek, wondering where his money will come from.

A good arena costs $500 million before factoring in teams that actually draw the paying customers.

Bartoszek can talk all he wants about getting his arena built first and worrying later about paying for teams. But when the cheapest of those — the hockey team — costs $500 million, that’s a billion-dollar investment before Bartoszek can hope to make money.

Last week Hansen’s group received the “green light” to build an arena; however, the city’s plan to financially back the arena appears to be falling apart.