NHL taps Las Vegas to join its ranks for a $500-million buy-in and a seat in the Pacific Division
|National Post 22 Jun 2016 at 19:57|
LAS VEGAS One year after the NHL opened an application process for potential expansion, commissioner Gary Bettman announced on Wednesday that Las Vegas will get a team for the 2017-18 season.
We think this is a tremendously exciting opportunity not just for Las Vegas, but for the league as well, said Bettman, who added that the board of governors voted unanimously to grant Las Vegas a new team. This was an intense and complicated process.
It was a year ago in Las Vegas when Bettman announced plans to open up an application process for potential expansion. Only two cities came forward and from the very beginning it seemed like Las Vegas had always been the preferred destination, with Quebec City likely a strong option for relocation if a team like the Carolina Hurricanes ever decides to move.
Bettman and chairman of the board Jeremy Jacobs both cited the fluctuating Canadian dollar and a geographic imbalance between the Eastern and Western Conferences as reasons why Quebec Citys application was deferred.
Quebec City is a tremendous hockey town and is certainly a candidate for future expansion, said Jacobs, the owner of the Boston Bruins.
Sin City is obviously not without its challenges the first one being location.
While Quebec City has been an NHL market in the past and is rich with hockey fans, Las Vegas represents yet another chance to grow the sport in a non-traditional and untapped hockey market. There appears to be a healthy appetite for hockey.
Today, the temperature in this market is about 115 degrees, which means the prospect of Las Vegas hosting an outdoor game is not in great shape, Bettman joked. But hosting indoor games at T-Mobile Arena is in great shape.
Starting today, Vegas has hockey NHL hockey. This is, to say the least, a fascinating time for the NHL.
Las Vegas had a season-ticket drive that resulted in 14,000 deposits, recently built a 17,500-seat arena steps away from the Strip and has a prospective owner in Bill Foley who has already written the NHL a cheque for US$2 million and is eagerly waiting to write another for the $500-million expansion fee.
Now that Las Vegas is finally getting its team and the NHL has beaten the NFL in breaking ground in the desert the fun begins.
The Vegas team, which had followed the Winnipeg model of laying low and not saying much until the formal process had been done, can now begin hiring a general manager, a support staff and coming up with a name for the new franchise.