Seattle, which began a season ticket drive Thursday in its effort to become an NHL expansion team, received 10,000 deposits in 12 minutes and about 25,000 in total.
The ownership group applied to the NHL for an expansion team on Feb. 13. If Seattle is awarded an NHL team, its owners expect to announce final ticket prices in 2019.
The group, led by Jerry Bruckheimer, a Hollywood producer, David Bonderman, a private equity CEO, and Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group, was authorized Dec. 7 to file an application for expansion by the NHL Board of Governors. It paid a $10 million application fee, Sportsnet reported.
“Shell-shocked is best way to put it,” Leiweke told TSN about the amount of deposits. “We sold 10,000 season tickets in 12 minutes and we’re just short of 25,000 so I guess the fans have spoken. The fans in Seattle have made it a resounding vote which is they are ready for the National Hockey League. They are counting on us to bring the NHL here.”
Tweet from @NHLSeattle_: 720 seconds.That���s how long it took to hit our goal of 10,000 deposits.We���re now at 25,000 and counting.Thank you, Seattle.#NHLSeattle
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in December that the cost of the team would be $650 million. Seattle would become the 32nd NHL team.
“It’s a dream come true [to see the number of ticket sales],” Bruckheimer told TSN. “I’m so excited to bring this sport, which is a great sport, to this community that so needs a winter sport. They’re going to be overwhelmed by the entertainment this sport will bring to this town.”
Tweet from @ChrisDaniels5: Bruckheimer, Leiweke looking at NHL deposits come in.@NHLSeattle_ #NHL #Seattle pic.twitter.com/XLv6iUMLmk
Seattle became a viable option for an NHL team with the agreement between the city and Oak View Group for a privately financed $600 million renovation of KeyArena, which opened in 1962 and was the home of the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics from 1967-78, 1985-1994 and 1995-2008 before they relocated to Oklahoma City for the 2008-09 season.
Commissioner Bettman said during 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend in January that the NHL is looking at only Seattle for possible expansion. The earliest the team could begin playing is the 2020-21 NHL season, when it is expected renovations of KeyArena would be complete.
An NHL flag was also raised atop the Space Needle in Seattle on Thursday.
Tweet from @space_needle: Hey @NHL: In case you were looking for a sign that #Seattle wants a team, just look up. @NHLSeattle_ #letsdothathockey ������ pic.twitter.com/9tcapicmfg
The Vegas Golden Knights, who began play this season as the NHL’s 31st team, paid a $500 million expansion fee. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the $150 million spike in the expansion fee reflects the value of the team in a specific market and allows for inflation. Las Vegas started its season ticket drive Feb. 10, 2015. It was awarded an NHL team June 22, 2016.
New York Islanders rookie center Mathew Barzal, who played four seasons for Seattle of the Western Hockey League at ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington, said fans would fully support an NHL team in Seattle.
“I think it’ll be great,” Barzal said. “They have passionate fans for all sports. I think when you go to Mariners games and Seahawks games, the fans are obviously nuts. Obviously, the Vegas Golden Knights have done great. Maybe Seattle won’t be as great right out of the gates, but I think if a team were to come to Seattle the fans would jump on that real quick and really adapt to hockey.”
NHL.com staff writer Mike G. Morreale contributed to this report.