Last week we wrote an article about the potential for a new NHL team in Las Vegas. Yesterday we learned this is now believed to be a done deal, with the A.P. reporting that the NHL has chosen Las Vegas over Quebec City as the home of a new NHL franchise. The only steps that are left come in the Board of Governor’s meeting on June 22nd in Las Vegas, where they are expected to finalize the deal once and for all. The name of the team has not been made public yet and there first season will likely be in 2017-18.
Those behind the project, including Bill Foley and his associates, will still have to raise an additional $500 million to make the Las Vegas NHL team a sure thing. This price is associated with the fee for entering into the National Hockey League. The last two teams that were introduced into the NHL in 2000 only had to pay $80 million, so this price has been inflated significantly. The team’s home is expected to be in the newly built T-Mobile Arena which seats over 17,000 attendees. Two additional practice facilities will likely be built nearby as well.
Those in Quebec City are disappointed, however, as they were the NHL’s second choice. They may still be considered in the coming years, but right now that is unclear. This most recent expansion was thought up due to the NHL’s efforts to balance the East and West conferences. The Eastern conference currently has 16 teams while the Western conference has just 14 teams, so the addition of a Las Vegas team will balance it out. It seems that Quebec City is still a highly probable thing, since that would completely balance out the number of teams in each conference (16 per conference).
While other professional sports teams such as the Oakland Raiders have considered Las Vegas as a potential new home, it seems that the NHL will be the only one for now. They will serve as a test run of sorts for professional sports in Vegas which will be interesting to see. Some critics of bringing professional sports to Vegas have said that gambling and the Las Vegas lifestyle might interfere. If it works out well for the NHL, we may see additional professional sports teams start moving in, which will give Las Vegas a greater sense of community aside from gambling.