Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images(SEATTLE) — As the Vegas Golden Knights get ready to host the Los Angeles Kings Wednesday in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in their inaugural season, Seattle took the next step in getting an expansion team of its own.
At a news conference Wednesday, Tod Leiweke was named the CEO and president of Seattle Hockey, the group authorized to redevelop KeyArena and bring an NHL team.
“One of the great things about Seattle is the community, and the community of teams is fanatsic,” Leiweke said.
Leiweke, formally the CEO of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was most recently the COO of the National Football League before leaving in March.
The project is already off to a great start, with 25,000 deposits for season tickets being placed in the first hour they were available back in March. The goal was 10,000, which was eclipsed in the first 12 minutes.
“I’ve always believed in the fans in Seattle,” Leiweke said. “I’ve always believe they were different.”
Leiweke’s brother, Tim, the CEO of Oak View Group, is partnered up with investment banker David Bonderman and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer to help make Seattle’s dream of bringing and NHL team there a reality.
The Oak View Group put down a ten million dollar down payment to the NHL in February to be the team’s 32nd franchise. The NHL’s fee for Seattle to become a team is 650 million dollars, and the team hopes to be ready by the 2020-21 season.
Leiweke wasted no time setting up the rivalry between Seattle and the cross-country rival Vancouver Canucks, either. We’re going to bring it,” he said. “The rivalry between these two great cities will be remarkable.”
Seattle appears to be well ahead of schedule, considering when the Golden Knights ran a season-ticket drive it received 5,000 deposits in the first two days. Vegas also didn’t announce its CEO until a year before puck drop.
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