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The Expansion Process: Managing Our Expectations

Using the Vegas Golden Knights timeline to speculate on our own is a slippery slope we should not approach.

BritWeek Gala Dinner Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The expansion process is in full swing as it was announced on Tuesday that the potential ownership group officially turned in their application along with a $10-million fee. A season ticket drive is expected to launch in the coming weeks while the Oak View Group simultaneously makes headway on the new arena at Seattle Center.

We are still far removed from a team hitting the ice and it’s imperative that we manage our own expectations. Tim Leiweke knows this process, and it’s one that he knows well. NHL expansion to Seattle is all but guaranteed and there is no benefit, for all parties, in unnecessarily pushing too far ahead. This project is very personal for the Oak View Group as they set a stage on which to display their capabilities. If there is anyone you want behind the wheel — to get a successful organization in order — it’s the team currently at the helm.

It is easy to compare the process with that of the Vegas Golden Knights who kicked off their inaugural season this year but using their timeline to speculate our own is a slippery slope we should not approach.

The NHL Board of Governors agreed to accept an expansion application from the Seattle ownership group in early December and granted them permission to gauge the market with a season ticket drive. Additionally, Commissioner Gary Bettman announced a $650-million price tag.

William Foley, the current owner of the Golden Knights, didn’t submit an expansion application until six months after he was given permission to test the market with a ticket drive. Also, there was no vote conducted and Bettman sidelined any formal application process.

“There is no formal expansion process,” said Bettman as he addressed the media following the 2014 NHL Board of Govoners meeting in Boca Raton, Florida. “There is no vote that was taken today. There is no vote that was contemplated. We don’t have an agreement to sell anybody an expansion process.”

It was a very different message than the one we received from the league three months ago as they granted Seattle permission to not only gauge the market but turn in an application. A set dollar amount was also provided to David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer, potential owners in Seattle, while no fee was set for Vegas until after they met their ticket goal.

“That doesn’t mean we have granted an expansion team,” said Bettman on December 7th as he addressed the media. “We have agreed as a league to take and consider an expansion application and to let them run in the next few months a season-ticket drive.”

As of right now, nothing points toward the league following a similar timeline and even the July announcement, in which they are expected to disclose whether Seattle sees expansion or relocation, is not set in stone.

Over the next two years, we are going to encounter a roller coaster of information — both of speculation and fact — and we must not attempt to take anything at more than face value. I’ll be the first to say that, in my opinion, the NHL coming to Seattle is inevitable, but we have to manage expectations. We can’t use Vegas as a gauge, both on and off the ice.