The NHL Seattle ticket drive kicked off on Thursday morning and boy, did it go over well in the Emerald City.
According to Oak View Group, which is headed up by Chief Executive Tim Leiweke, and partnering with billionaire David Bonderman and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, there were 10,000 season tickets — their original goal — sold in 12 minutes following the 10 a.m. PT start. Within an hour, over 25,000 had been sold.
Season ticket deposits are $500 and it’s $1,000 for club season tickets, which will be located in the lower bowl at center ice.
If you want a comparison of how well this drive has gone for Seattle, it took the Vegas Golden Knights two days to get 5,000 season-ticket deposits, a month to reach 9,000 and 18 months to hit 16,000 sold. KeyArena, which is to undergo a $660 million renovation in time for a potential 2020-21 start for an NHL team, holds 17,500, so there will be a priority waitlist for those who were successful in snatching up tickets which could include partials.
If OVG is successful in getting a franchise to Seattle, there is a $650 million expansion fee to be paid, $150 million more than what Bill Foley forked over for Vegas.
“It’s a dream come true. I’m so excited to bring this sport, which is a great sport, to this community that so needs a winter sport,” Bruckheimer told TSN. “They’re going to be overwhelmed by the entertainment that this sport brings to this town.”
So it’s pretty safe to say that Seattle’s chances for an NHL franchise are just about 100 percent after today’s developments. On Wednesday, while in Vancouver for the 2019 draft announcement, Commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated the league’s stance — which was promised to the Seattle group — that should they get a team they will experience the same expansion draft rules that the Golden Knights did a year ago.
The expansion process for Vegas saw each NHL team protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender; or eight skaters and one goalie. Golden Knights general manager George McPhee was also given the opportunity to sign any restricted or unrestricted free agent before July 1, which would count as a player lost.
Of course, while Vegas is shattering expansion records in its inaugural year, you would think NHL GMs would approach the process in 2020 a little smarter than they did for the Golden Knights. We’ll see on that.
Bringing Seattle to the NHL would mean a 16th team in the West, balancing out the two conferences. Will we see some changes in how the divisions/conferences look in 2020? Bettman told the Tampa Bay Times in January that realignment “doesn’t strike me as being one of the more complicated issues if expansion is going forward.”