Bettman said the David Bonderman group in Seattle has been granted permission to file an application for expansion and run a season-ticket drive, similar to what occurred with the Vegas process.
There has been no talk of when the Seattle franchise would come to be, only that it would have to pay a fee of $650 million to enter the league.
He made the announcement after the first day of the board of governors meeting in Manalapan, Fla.
After the news that the Seattle City Council had approved the renovation plan to KeyArena, Seattle immediately became the hottest free agent of all the cities on the market. They began play this season.
The NHL is focused on evening out the conferences to 16 teams each before expanding more teams in the East.
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Also announced Thursday, the Carolina Hurricanes have sold a majority stake in the franchise to Dallas billionaire Tom Dundon.
A Seattle team would be the league's 32nd franchise.
During this expansion process. only Seattle will be considered, which would mean Quebec City will have to continue to wait for a potential franchise, as well as Houston, which has seen early-stage talks take place between the National Hockey League and Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta.
Peter Karmanos Jr. would continue to hold an equity stake in the team.
As The Seattle Times reported on Tuesday, Seattle was once home to the Stanley Cup-winning Metropolitans.