Possible NHL Expansion in Seattle and Portland

By Liv Phillips ’15

In Aug. 2014, Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League (NHL), announced the possible expansion of NHL teams to Toronto, Las Vegas, Seattle, and Quebec City. Recently, however, Bettman distanced himself from expansion.

The Portland Winterhawks playing against the Everett Silvertips. (Photo: Liv Phillips '15)

The Portland Winterhawks playing against the Everett Silvertips. (Photo: Liv Phillips ’15)

In a press conference in Oct. 2014, Bettman addressed the idea of expansion. “Deciding to expand, if it happens, will be a major transaction that has major impact. We’re going to continue to listen to expressions of interest, and that’s gratifying that we’re getting them, but we’re not ready to go through a formal expansion project.”

For years, Seattle has been yearning for an NHL team, and with this announcement, the reality of Seattle having an NHL team is coming closer.

Seattle could easily support a NHL team. It is the perfect city for one. Having over 3.5 million residents and already hosting a NFL and MLS team, a NHL hockey team would be a perfect edition.

An NHL expansion in Seattle would also lead to an excellent rivalry between the Seattle team and the Vancouver Canucks.

Before Seattle has a chance of getting an NHL franchise, there will have to be an NBA team in Seattle so that the NBA team will share the arena with the NHL team.

According to a blog, “NHL to Seattle”, “For those that don’t know, the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Seattle and King County requires an NBA franchise before construction can begin on the SoDo site.”

Seattle remains a more attractive expansion location in comparison with Portland. Portland does not have as large a population, so it might not be able to support all three major league teams. However, if an NHL franchise is given to Seattle, Portland could support an American Hockey League (AHL) team. The AHL is the developmental league for the NHL.

There has also been a push for an NHL team in Las Vegas, there are already numerous backers. In order for there to be an expansion in any city, a already existing team will have to transfer. Currently all of the NHL teams are in good financial holding and have a strong fan base.

Within the next ten years, there should be an expansion of some kind, but it will be hard to tell, which city will get a team.