>>Bettman Says Outdoor Games Far From Overdone
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says there's no reason for the league not to keep holding outdoor games each season.
Bettman made a promotional appearance Wednesday at the University of Minnesota football stadium. That's where the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks will play outside Feb. 21 as part of the NHL's Stadium Series games, which were started in 2014 to supplement the annual Winter Classic on New Year's Day.
Bettman says fans, communities and teams "cannot get enough" of the outdoor games and "they're far from being overdone or oversaturated." After several years of lobbying, the Wild finally landed one.
The NHL has staged 14 outdoor games in the last seven years.
>>NHL Pursuing Team in Vegas, Quebec
Las Vegas and Quebec City are moving on to the second of three phases in their bids to land NHL expansion franchises, the respective groups announced Wednesday.
Bill Foley, who heads the Las Vegas bid, issued a statement on his group's website, "Vegas Wants Hockey," that the league has invited it to advance. Quebecor, a Montreal-based communications giant, announced on its Twitter account that its Quebec City bid is moving forward.
Foley said Phase 2 will feature bidders providing the NHL additional information regarding their respective markets and arena plans. The bidders will also gain access to certain league-related information.
The Las Vegas group has already secured more than 13,200 season-ticket deposits for a potential team. And there's a multipurpose arena under construction near the Las Vegas Strip and set to open next spring.
In Quebec City, the publicly funded, 18,259-seat Videotron Centre is set to open next month. It replaces the small and outdated Colisee, which previously served home to the NHL's Nordiques, who relocated to Colorado to become the Avalanche in 1995. Quebecor manages and owns the naming rights to the new arena.
There is a third phase to the process, though it's unclear when that will begin. Bids must also be approved by the NHL Board of Governors.
The NHL isn't expected to expand until 2017-18 at the earliest. Commissioner Gary Bettman has proposed an expansion fee of $500 million. That's a significant jump from the $80 million fee paid by the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild, when the NHL last expanded to 30 teams in 2000.