Canucks' market could shrink after Seattle adds new NHL team

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The Vancouver Canucks will no longer be the Pacific Northwest's only NHL team, as Seattle is set to become the league's 32nd franchise. 

Seattle's nearly year-long bid was launched in February by the Seattle Hockey Partners, led by business man David Bonderman, who will serve as majority owner. The NHL’s Board of Governors voted unanimously to approve the expansion at a meeting in Georgia.

The group will pay a US$650 million expansion fee, which is 30% more than the US$500 million Las Vegas paid two years ago. 

This could raise concerns at the Vancouver Canucks head office, as the team has been the most popular NHL franchise in Oregon and Washington State. Ticket site Vivid Seats reviewed NHL ticket sales data and found the Canucks had the highest ticket sales among purchasers in the two Pacific Northwest states. With a new American team located south of the border, these fans could be diverted to Seattle.

The team is taking over KeyArena, which was the previous home to the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics. The city approved a $700 million upgrade to the stadium, which will be entirely gutted and modernized, leaving only the roof untouched. The stadium will seat 17,400 for hockey games and 18,600 for basketball.

Even though the team won't hit the ice until the 2021-22 season, it has already secured 30,000 season tickets deposit.

The Canucks organization put out a press release December 4 welcoming Seattle to the league.

"Today is an exciting day for the NHL and especially hockey fans here in the Pacific Northwest," said Francesco Aquilini, managing director of the Aquilini Group, which owns the Canucks. "Congratulations to David Bonderman, Tod Leiweke, the NHL Seattle group, the City of Seattle and everyone involved in making today a reality. Seattle is a great sports city and we can't wait to ignite a true regional rivalry west of the Rockies for Canucks fans. It's going to be a lot of fun."