Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period joined Steve Kouleas and Carter Hutton on the Sirius XM NHL Network Radio Power Play segment and was asked about expansion beyond Utah. Pagnotta stated that Houston is not as far along as they are saying it is.

** NHLRumors.com transcription

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Steve Kouleas: “Well, that means if it’s a fait accompli, Arizona is coming back, that would be 33. And we got two other Matza Balls in the air with Houston and, of course, Atlanta, which would be 35. That’s an odd number, kids. So, are we looking at 36? And what time are we looking at here? That’s a lot of money. I get it. But that’s a lot of teams. And my fear is that there are just too many teams too fast to support the elite player pool my friend.”

Dave Pagnotta: “Well,  based on everything that I’ve been hearing in the people that I’ve been talking to, I don’t think Houston is as far along as they’re leading on to believe. You know, they’ve met with the NHL and Tillman Fertitta has come out and said he’s working on it. He’s trying to get a team to Houston and all of that, all of that stuff. He doesn’t want to pay for it. Not the whole chunk anyway.

So yeah, he will be part of a group that ultimately brings a team to Houston if they can get there, but I don’t believe he will be the main financier of this, and you’re effectively looking at a minimum of a billion-dollar expansion fee now I think it will be higher at that point. I mean, this is all pre-agreed with, with Arizona. But just like when Vegas came in for $500 million. Seattle was $650 million I believe the next round will go up. Probably you’re gonna be north of $1.2 billion for the next franchise, probably around the $1.2 to $1.5 billion range.

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I think Atlanta, with their two options, they’ve got the Krause group and the other group with Anson Carter as part of it. One of those two certainly seem to be you know, in the running here, they’re both in the running but one of the two would ultimately win this thing and bring a team back to the Atlanta region. And I think that would be 34 by the sounds of things, at least the direction things are going and that would be Team 34. And then you’re looking at Houston and some of the other alternative options that are out there, whether it’s a Kansas City or Omaha or Cincinnati, San Diego or whomever.”

Kouleas: “Omaha, Omaha!”

Pagnotta: “Yes, Omaha, Nebraska. Correct. Yes. Gary Bettman has said that there are groups that are interested, or at least one group interested that they’ve spoken with, about bringing a team to Omaha as well. So there’s interest, and the good thing about all of this is there’s a variety of things, but one of the good things is that there’s a ton of interest and a ton of different markets and from a variety of different groups.

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Kansas City included Quebec City and others in terms of bringing a franchise there, I think even around that I’ve said this before in and around 2030 we’ll have 36 clubs. Now, whether it’s 36 that start by that season, or we’ve announced we’re going to two more teams to 36, and it’ll take a few more years. But anyway, in and around that mark is when we’ll be at 36.

I’ve talked to a few owners, current owners about this as well. They seem to believe that that’s the number we’re going to hit within, you know, the next six, seven, eight, or nine seasons here. In and around that mark and, there’s going to be a hard pause on things around the board, and MLB is expanding, and the NBA will expand, the NFL has been talking about it and all that stuff. The NHL is kind of likely, by the looks of things is going to be the first to 36 if everything continues to align this way, but there’s a lot of interest.

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Again, going back to Houston, I don’t want to discredit or discount the interest there. There’s definite interest. It’s just going to take a lot more than what’s being discussed right now publicly in order to make this happen. There’ll be a larger group, and Fertitta will be part of it, but not the main guy.

There are also some, even though they’ve made renovations to the arena there, the Toyota Center. It sounds like they would want he would prefer the Rockets to be the primary tenant, which means they may ultimately need another building in that market.”


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