Expansion process underway as NHL sends out applications

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It’s on, per TSN:

The NHL began distribution of application materials for parties interested in expansion on Monday. They are due back to the league by August 10. The fee to apply for an expansion franchise is seven figures – north of $1 million U.S. – and only a portion is refundable.

On top of that, interested parties must demonstrate the ability to pay an expansion fee north of $500 million, prove the viability of their proposed market and evidence the availability of an arena for the team to call home.

Here’s a quick rundown of some groups believed to be interested…

Las Vegas: Spearheaded by owner Bill Foley and the Maloof family, the Las Vegas Wants Hockey group has already orchestrated a successful ticket drive — reportedly receiving cash deposits for 13,200 season tickets — and has a place to play, with the MGM-AEG arena project to be completed next spring. Vegas is the frontrunner for an expansion franchise.

Quebec City: One day after the NHL confirmed it would begin its formal expansion review process, Quebecor — a Canadian media company based out of Montreal — said it would submit an application for expansion.

More, from the Quebecor release:

Quebecor will be the manager of the Videotron Centre for the next 25 years. The state-of-the-art facility in Québec City, which seats 18,259 for hockey, is set to officially open in September 2015. It was designed to meet NHL standards.

TVA Sports, owned by Quebecor, has been the NHL’s official French-language broadcaster since the beginning of the 2014-15 season under a 12-year agreement.

Quebec City has the building and support, but would further imbalance the Eastern-Western Conference setup. There are also potential issues surrounding ownership (see here) and the unstable Canadian dollar.

Toronto: Graeme Roustan, a venture capitalist and biggest shareholder in the company that owns Bauer and Easton, also threw his hat in the ring one day after the NHL’s announcement. Roustan had previously tried to build an NHL-caliber arena in the Toronto suburb of Markham, as part of his long-standing desire to bring a second NHL team to the GTA.

“I will definitely be making an application on behalf of the [Greater Toronto Area],” Roustan told the Hockey News. “I’ve always believed that a second NHL team in Toronto would flourish and I’ve been preparing since 2010 for this possibility.”

More:

Roustan said he will look at all possibilities in the GTA for an arena, including revisiting the possibility of going to Markham. When asked if that would include the possibility of playing out of the Air Canada Centre, the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, perhaps as a temporary measure, Roustan said, “We’re going to look at every opportunity to have a franchise in the GTA and if that means a possible temporary location, so be it.”

The NHL has always insisted that the Leafs have no veto on a second Toronto team.

Seattle: Per TSN, the league is expecting to receive “one — if not multiple — applications from prospective groups in the Seattle market.” One group’s already thrown its hat in the ring — the one headed by former Glencore oil trader Ray Bartoszek, who is aiming to build an arena in the Seattle suburb of Tukwila.

The other group tied to Seattle expansion, Chris Hansen’s SoDo neighborhood arena project, still appears to be in limbo regarding the arena’s first tenant. There were talks that construction could get underway with a revised memorandum for an NHL-first team instead of NBA-first but, in May, Hansen said he’d yet to receive a formal offer for an NHL club.

It’s worth noting that NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league has also received interest from Portland and Milwaukee. Kansas City, a market some thought would make a formal expansion application, is now expected not to.