Despite reports of interest from multiple locations, the NHL received only two applications for expansion during its open bid process.
In a statement released Tuesday on its website, the NHL confirmed “we have received two applications: one from Bill Foley for a franchise in Las Vegas, Nevada, and one from Quebecor for a franchise in Quebec City, Quebec.”
You will notice that this list does not include other cities that were expected to bid for expansion such as Seattle or Toronto.
Seattle has long been considered one of the most likely destinations for a future NHL team and three separate groups expressed interest. The political and financial difficulties of building a new arena, however, appears to have derailed any potential bid.
GTA Sports and Entertainment CEO Graeme Roustan has long been a proponent of bringing a second team to Toronto, but he did not pay the $10 million expansion fee required.
Said the NHL:
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 Mr. Foley and Quebecor have the confidence in their ability to secure an arena and suitable ownership capability to move forward with this process.
That does not bode well for Seattle, no matter how much it may make sense.
The NHL will now continue forward with Las Vegas and Quebec City, though this is not an indication that league is ready to add two new teams (if any). The initial application process was just the first step.
“We now intend to focus exclusively on the two expansion applications that have been submitted in accordance with the previously announced process," the statement continued. "The process we have outlined for qualified applicants includes at least two more stages of documentation submission.”
It’s no guarantee, but we are at least one step closer to (more) hockey in the desert.