NHL

Gary Bettman: NHL will explore possible expansion, with Las Vegas among candidates for teams

FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2015, file photo, Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League, addresses the crowd during the "Let's Bring Hockey to Las Vegas!" news conference at the MGM Grand Ballroom in Las Vegas. With talk of expansion to Las Vegas percolating, the city welcomes the NHL this week for another awards show while general managers and the board of governors set the league's short- and long-term future.  (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP, File)) LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL OUT

FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2015, file photo, Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League, addresses the crowd during the "Let's Bring Hockey to Las Vegas!" news conference at the MGM Grand Ballroom in Las Vegas. With talk of expansion to Las Vegas percolating, the city welcomes the NHL this week for another awards show while general managers and the board of governors set the league's short- and long-term future. (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP, File)) LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL OUT  (The Associated Press)

The NHL is officially exploring expansion.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said Wednesday that the league is opening an expansion review process to consider whether to add new franchises to its 30-team league. Bettman cited Las Vegas, Seattle and Quebec City as the markets that have expressed the most serious interest.

The Board of Governors decided that the NHL will take formal applications for a new franchise starting July 6 and closing Aug. 10. The league hasn't made decisions on a timeline, any terms of expansion or the number of clubs to be added.

The NHL doesn't anticipate adding any teams before the 2017-18 season, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly says.

Bettman indicated that an expansion fee would be at least $500 million to be distributed among the existing clubs.