Through 2015 and into the new year, there have been talks of a few professional sports teams moving to Las Vegas. First the Oakland Raiders were discussing Vegas as a potential new home and now the NHL is also considering the city for a new team. Earlier in 2016, the NHL had several meetings to vote on expanding the league and it seems that they will likely decide to approve this vote. The expansion would add just one team which will likely be placed in Las Vegas inside of the newly built T-Mobile Arena.
On April 6 of 2016, construction of the T-Mobile Arena was completed. Two years earlier, MGM Resorts partnered up with Anschutz Entertainment Group to build this new facility. It holds roughly 20,000 people, making it ideal for hockey, basketball and other large events. While the NBA does not currently have any plans to expand or relocate any existing teams, it may be something to look for in the next few years. For the NHL however, it appears that if a team is placed in the arena, it would be a brand new franchise. In true Vegas fashion, the new arena is located right on the strip and even has its own mixologist on staff.
The name of this potential new NHL team has not yet been decided, but it looks like it will be a private decision vs. a public vote. There has been some discrepancies from reporters as to when exactly the team would begin playing should the move get approved. Two of the most likely possibilities include the team starting its first game on opening day of the 2016-2017 or 2017-2018 NHL season. If the city is awarded an NHL team, the man behind the project, Bill Foley, said he has plans to build out two practice facilities nearby for the team.
In May of this year, the NHL’s Board of Governors met in Florida to discuss the potential expansion. It was expected that an announcement would be made shortly thereafter, but here we are over a month later and still no word on a new team. It seems that the announcement on whether the team was approved or denied will be let out sometime this month however. Once that happens, the contract(s) would be sent off to the appropriate parties and signed.
Even if the NHL decides to not approve the expansion, or pulls back its decision to move a team to Las Vegas, the T-Mobile Arena will still serve a purpose and would likely generate huge revenues. Currently, it is the only Arena in downtown Vegas, and one of the largest stand alone event center-type facilities. Either way, it will hold many large music events along with live entertainment for tourists. After the Great Recession, with gambling revenue on the decline, these types of venues have proved to be a huge moneymaker for the city.