NHL’s next expansion franchise could cost $600-700 million

The Hockey Night in Canada panel discuss comments made by Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson about their contracts and if the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers are open for trades.

If the NHL adds another franchise to the mix in the future, there’s a good chance it will cost much more than the $500 million Bill Foley paid to spur the addition of the Vegas Golden Knights.

That’s according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, who reported that the next NHL franchise is expected to cost between $600-700 million.

“Expansion is not formally on the agenda as owners gather Thursday and Friday in Florida, but there is a strong feeling that it will be discussed on some level,” Johnston said during Hockey Night in Canada’s Headlines segment on Saturday. “We’ve talked about Houston, we’ve talked about Quebec City in recent weeks. There’s also a key vote in Seattle on Monday where the Oak View Group could have its $600-million arena proposal approved by council to get things going. That will obviously get the attention of NHL owners should it go through.

“And with how well things have gone in Vegas on the ice, off the ice, all this interest that they’re getting, the feeling is that the next franchise in the league is going to cost $600 million to $700 million.”

The vote in question—on a memorandum of understanding between the Oak View Group and the city of Seattle proposing a redevelopment of KeyArena—could serve as the first significant step in Seattle’s bid to enter the expansion fray.

Commissioner Gary Bettman discussed the city’s chances of getting a franchise in October, telling Sportsnet 590’s Prime Time Sports that securing a building surely helps.

“You need to believe that a building is going to come out of the ground. And if not, bad things will happen,” Bettman said. “This is really jumping ahead because we would have to be in a place where we say ‘OK we want to commit to a franchise in Seattle. Here’s what has to happen, here are the terms of engagement.’ We’re nowhere near that.”

Not yet, but a majority vote from the nine-member council on Monday would certainly move Seattle one step closer.

The Golden Knights’ $500-million price tag was the most costly in NHL history thus far—by a long shot. The two previous clubs to join the league, the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild, each paid $80 million in expansion fees back in 2000.

Nashville and Atlanta paid the same in the two years prior, while Florida and Anaheim each coughed up $50 million in fees before that, one tenth of the price paid by Foley for the Golden Knights.

However, as Johnston said, the league’s 31st team has already begun reaping the rewards of that hefty sum, drawing interest from locals and the hockey world alike as their club continues what has already been the most impressive start of any franchise in league history.