If you’re one of the people asking, “What happened to the NHL’s expansion?” We might have an answer for you: Nothing yet.
The members of the National Hockey League executive committee met in New York on Wednesday for an update on the expansion application review process. A source told the Las Vegas Review Journal that although two bids were discussed, no decision was made.
Lead investor in Las Vegas’ proposed NHL franchise Bill Foley was not surprise. Foley said the final decision is still a couple of months away and he’s patiently waiting for it.
“I think it will be March or April, and then we can start putting one foot in front of another,” Foley told the LVRJ. I feel we’re in a very good position at this point. We’re respecting the process and hoping for a positive outcome.”
The Board of Governors will meet at the NHL All-Star Game in Nashville, Tennessee next week but NDeputy Commissioner and chief legal officer Bill Daly said that he didn’t expect any definitive decision to come out of the meeting.
The NHL’s board of governors approved the NHL expansion process in June. Many parties showed interest including Las Vegas, Seattle, Quebec and a second team in Toronto, as well as from Milwaukee, Kansas City and Portland. But in the end, only two bidders – Foley and Quebecor’s Quebec City proposal – submitted formal applications along with the required fee—$10 million, $2 million of which is nonrefundable.
Each made their expansion pitches to the league in September. Foley pointed out that Las Vegas has secured almost 14,000 deposits on season tickets; it has a $375 million, state-of-the-art arena that is on target to be completed by mid-April and will seat 17,500 for hockey; and the city’s economy is healthy and ready to support the NHL.
Quebec City on the other hand faces a number of issues, including the slumping Canadian dollar. Daly told Sportsnet that the league’s position on expansion is a “long-term decision” and it appears the low Canadian dollar is much more of a short-term and “cyclical” issue.
“It certainly does impact what a Quebec franchise would do in the short-term. It’s not as much an issue for the National Hockey League as it might be for a potential Quebec ownership group,” said Daly. “What is their long-term vision? What is their willingness to deal with that currency differential — particularly if it’s prolonged?”
But again, even with these two promising bids, league’s expansion is not a sure thing.