It's official — finally. Seattle is home to the next National Hockey League team, after the organization announced the expansion Tuesday morning. The announcement was followed by a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.
The NHL board of governors voted unanimously to bring the long-anticipated professional team to Seattle. The unnamed franchise is the 32nd to join the league, and a formal announcement is expected later today.
When you hear you’re getting a new @NHL team!
— Mayor Jenny Durkan (@MayorJenny) December 4, 2018
Just before the announcement, as he was headed to the watch party where Mayor Jenny Durkan shared the news, KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel talked about the impending announcement with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick.
"The NHL wanted to start the season in October 2020, and that was the plan that was given to the City of Seattle," he said. "But it looks like that they are going announce today that this thing is going to start in 2021, simply because they can't get the (Key Arena) remodel done in enough time to open in 2020."
While not a surprising development, Thiel says, it is a disappointment for those who were looking forward to an earlier NHL debut in the Emerald City. Listen to the rest of their conversation above.
UPDATE, Dec. 4: Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner, holds press conference following the unanimous vote to bring professional hockey to Seattle. The league also released answers to FAQs in a report Tuesday.
NHL Board of Governors Press Conference https://t.co/jnh9CmiUfw
— NHL (@NHL) December 4, 2018
UPDATE, Dec. 6: Officials, including Gov. Jay Inslee, gathered at the site of the Seattle Center Arena project Wednesday for a groundbreaking ceremony. The crowd marked the beginning of a renovation that will culminate in the return of professional hockey to Seattle.
While Seattle’s new NHL team won’t take to the ice in a renovated Key Arena until October 2021, more than 30,000 people have already put deposits down on season tickets.
Jody Waits is one of them. She talked to KNKX reporter Paula Wissel. As someone who grew up in Detroit, Waits says hockey is in her DNA.
"Every kid who grew up in Detroit has a vision of driving a Zamboni at some point in their life," she quipped. "Hockey's a unique game; it's fast, the players come fromm all over the country and all over the world."
Waits says professional hockey is likely to do well in Seattle, pointing to the city’s inherent desire to rally for sports teams here.