A sports investment group fronted by former ice hockey player Anson Carter has formally requested that the US’s elite-tier National Hockey League (NHL) award the city of Alpharetta, Georgia, an expansion franchise.

Alpharetta Sports & Entertainment Group (ASEG) requested that the league commence a new expansion process to award a new franchise to the city, returning the NHL to the Atlanta metropolitan area for the first time since 2011.

Through the announcement, Alpharetta pledged to build a new 18,000-capacity stadium as part of a mixed-use development in Atlanta for the prospective franchise, in partnership with the real estate investment wing of insurance company New York Life.

Carter has lobbied NHL commissioner Gary Bettman for an Atlanta expansion franchise since 2019 and has garnered a lot of backing in the local community, with Fulton County commission chair Robb Pitts stating in support of the bid: “The location of an NHL franchise, as currently proposed in Alpharetta, would bring an exhilarating sport to our community’s thriving professional sports lineup.

“I have no doubt the citizens of Fulton County and the metro Atlanta region will be strongly supportive of professional hockey’s return to our region.”

Alpharetta mayor Jim Gilvin, meanwhile, spoke on the logistical viability of an NHL team in the area, adding: “Our city is at the geographic center of the [hockey] fan base in metro Atlanta. Easy access provided by Georgia Highway 400 and planned expansion of MARTA public transit in Alpharetta guarantees hockey fans an easy commute and a world-class experience.”

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He is joined at ASEG by figures such as Neil Leibman, who is the chief operating officer and part owner of baseball’s Texas Rangers and the co-managing partner of sports investment group Top Tier Sports.

Investment fund Simon Sports’ founder Sam Simon, and Ziegler Automotive Group president and chief executive Aaron Ziegler are also a part of ASEG.

Both Simon Sports and Top Tier Sports have histories investing in ice hockey, with Simon Sports serving as a founding member of the West Coast Junior Hockey League, and owners of the Halifax Mooseheads of Canada’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Top Tier Sports, meanwhile, is an investor in the Allen Americans, the ECHL developmental league affiliate side of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.

Atlanta has twice been awarded expansion franchises by the NHL, and twice those franchises have been relocated to Canada within 15 years of formation.

The Flames franchise, currently of Calgary, Canada, were founded as an Atlanta expansion team and played there from 1972 through 1980. In 1997, the city was awarded another franchise, the Atlanta Thrashers, which in 2011 was relocated to Winnipeg, Canada, and rechristened the Winnipeg Jets.

Anson Carter himself is part owner of the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators, which recently drew 10,000 fans in attendance for its Atlanta Thrashers-themed night, a stat which Carter status supports the viability of a return of the NHL to the area. He had also attempted to purchase the Thrashers in 2011 before the Winnipeg relocation.

The NHL itself, however, has cooled speculation over the immediacy of a new expansion franchise becoming reality, with the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly saying: “While, as we have made clear, we have no expansion-oriented process in place currently, it's always good to know there is bona fide interest.”

Other locations vying for expansion franchises in recent months include Houston, Texas, in a bid headed by basketball’s Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, while Ryan Smith and his Smith Entertainment group, owner of basketball’s Utah Jazz, would also like to see an NHL franchise in their state.