NEW YORK — Quebec City and Las Vegas are now at the forefront of the NHL expansion movement.
Owners in those two cities were the only ones to submit expansion applications before Monday’s deadline, the league confirmed Tuesday morning in a statement.
“As previously announced, NHL expansion applications were made available to all potentially interested applicants on July 6. Since that date, we have received requests from, and responded by sending applications to, 16 separate groups/individuals.
“The deadline for filing an application and proceeding in the NHL expansion process was last night. We can confirm that we have received two applications: one from Bill Foley for a franchise in Las Vegas, Nevada, and one from Quebecor for a franchise in Quebec City, Quebec.
“Our purpose, in initiating the expansion process in the manner we did, was not only to explore the possibility of admitting new members to the NHL but also, at the outset, to set realistic guideposts to distinguish between bona fide expressions of interest (i.e., those which have at least substantial ownership capabilities and an arena or the realistic possibility of an arena) from those indications of potential interest which were, at best, merely hopes or aspirations. Apparently, only Mr. Foley and Quebecor have the confidence in their ability to secure an arena and suitable ownership capability to move forward with this process.
“We now intend to focus exclusively on the two expansion applications that have been submitted in accordance with the previously announced process. The process we have outlined for qualified applicants includes at least two more stages of documentation submission. We will provide no further updates until there is something substantive to announce.”
Ownership groups in the Toronto and Seattle areas considered applying but ultimately did not.
The NHL said the intent of the expansion process was to “set realistic guideposts to distinguish between bona fide expressions of interest … from those indications of potential interest which were, at best, merely hopes or aspirations.”
Quebecor manages the Videotron Centre, which will host a pre-season game between the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins in September.
A new arena is under construction on the Las Vegas strip and is set to open in the spring of 2016.
The NHL intends to focus “exclusively” on Las Vegas and Quebec now that the applications have been submitted.
There are two more stages of the expansion process, which goes until Aug. 10.
Expansion would be for the 2017-18 season, commissioner Gary Bettman said last month.