Beginning in October, 2001, the cities of Portland, Oregon, and Atlanta, Georgia will be home to PHL franchises. The PHL expansion committee voted Portland, Atlanta, and Houston as the top three candidates with Portland receiving the most votes. The three cities then went to a league vote among the 28 owners where Atlanta was unanimous and Portland barely edged out Houston. "We're very excited to welcome these two great communities to our league" said commissioner Darryl Byrd. "I believe these markets have a lot to offer to the league and the game itself." Even Portland's biggest opponent, Seattle owner Kevin Emms, welcomed the new franchise to the league. "We want to give a big welcome to the city of Portland" said Emms. "We couldn't defend our territory in the boardroom so I guess now we'll just have to do it on the ice. I can't wait to see how this rivalry develops." For Atlanta, the announcement marks the end of a long road that began during the 70s, when the city seemingly did not stand a chance against the likes of Edmonton, Long Island, or Washington to get a franchise. With the PHL boldly moving more into the south during the 1990s, the dream was suddenly in reach for the city.
The Eastern Conference will not be realigned, Atlanta will be inserted right into the now-four-team South Division. In the West, Denver will move back to the Central in time for 2000-01 while Portland will play in the Pacific. No team names have been settled on yet,