Las Vegas Loses Its Mind Over NHL Expansion Team

Las Vegas has been so desperate for so long to get a professional sports team, when it was announced the city will have an NHL expansion team, people went nuts, clearly overlooking the fact the “h” in NHL stands for “hockey.”

This blog is not a sports person, so we’re not entirely objective about this news, but we’re passing it along because people who are into sports seem to think it’s a huge deal.

So, on June 22, 2016, the worst-kept secret in Las Vegas history was announced officially. Las Vegas will get an as-yet-unnamed pro hockey team.

Las Vegas Hookers

Sorry, the best name possible is already taken by an amateur team here in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas franchise will mean the National Hockey League will now have 31 teams, which is truly irksome to those of us with OCD.

The team will begin play during the 2017-2018 season and will be in the league’s Pacific Division, whatever that might actually be.

Las Vegas bajillionaire Bill Foley will pay $500 million for the privilege of bringing an NHL team to Las Vegas.

The new Las Vegas team will play in the new T-Mobile Arena. The arena has a capacity of 17,368 for hockey teams. Yes, exactly 17,368.

Las Vegas Arena

Our shiny new Las Vegas arena opened on April 6, 2016.

What took so long for a professional sports team to come to Las Vegas? Paranoia, basically. Sports leagues have feared that if you have a sports team associated with Las Vegas, people might start betting on sports. Or worse, there might be game-fixing.

The good news is that the chances of malfeasance related to betting on hockey is mitigated by the fact so few people care about hockey, very few people place wagers on it.

Nobody really knows why the paranoia has subsided now, although did we mention the expansion fee to get an NHL team here is $500 million? The $500 million will be distributed among the 30 existing NHL teams. Yes, the vote by the NHL’s Board of Governors was unanimous. Shocker!

Here are more official answers to all your NHL expansion team questions from, you know, the actual NHL.

Vital Vegas Tweet

With this 2014 Tweet, we were so very first, but so only partially right.

So, what does it all mean for Las Vegas? Who knows. Hockey is certainly a sport, but whether it’s the kind of sport that will succeed, nobody knows. Lots of sports teams have tried to make a go of Las Vegas and failed, including an array of minor league hockey teams like the Gamblers, the Outlaws, the Aces, the Thunder and the Ice Dice. We are not making this up.

Our prediction? No, you didn’t ask, but you also haven’t stopped reading, have you? Well, our prediction is it won’t take long for everyone to realize putting a deposit down on hockey season tickets isn’t the same thing as purchasing season tickets. A successful professional team takes sustained support, and again, it’s hockey. In a town where there are lots of competing forms of entertainment involving people beating each other to a pulp.

We’re not naysaying in a vacuum, by the way. People actually into sports think our new Vegas team may have some challenges, to say the least.

Las Vegas world leader

Someday, if we get an NFL team, we can also be a world leader in concussions! Fingers crossed.

In the NHL, teams play 82 games a season, 41 of those at home. The average ticket price for an NHL game is $62.18. Not only do we not personally care for hockey, we also don’t care for math, but that seems like an expensive hobby. The 14,000 people who put down deposits for season tickets paid a mere $150, by the way.

It goes without saying that, of course, we want this enterprise to succeed! A pro hockey team could mean a whole new crop of people visiting Las Vegas who have never been here before.

Another benefit of having professional athletes  in Sin City on a regular basis is our Las Vegas strip clubs will be more popular than ever.

Perhaps the biggest perk of the NHL deciding to bestow a team upon Las Vegas is it opens the door for other sports we don’t particularly care about, too. The gloves are off, as it were.

More professional sports in Las Vegas means more visitors. More visitors means more revenue for Las Vegas businesses, including hotel-casinos. More revenue means new amenities we can all enjoy. Now, that’s a hat trick we can get behind.

Differing opinions welcome! That’s why the sports gods invented comments sections on blogs. Probably.

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  • Adam Pierce

    What a snarky ass post…. Why the attitude?

    • Somebody has to do it! Just sort of not my thing, and now we have years more of hearing about it. I do appreciate dissenting opinions, though, so thank you.

      • Vegasbymonday

        We all know Scott hates sports…who cares! Take the good with the bad and get over your selves. I love hockey and I love Vegas. If Scott was exactly like me, I’d probably hate him. So raise our glasses and toast the good things about Vegas like being charged for parking or imploding iconic relics

    • Funny, I didn’t find it any more snarky than any other articles on here. But then, the snark is why I keep coming back.

      • Thanks! I was surprised to see how upset people were to hear a minority opinion on this. Is it just me, or are people becoming less tolerant of opinions that don’t align with their own? That makes live so much less interesting.

  • GT Campbell

    This is one of those articles that years from now, people will read and laugh about because the writer was so wrong in his (ignorant) assessment of the prospect of having an NHL team in a city such as Las Vegas. As someone who lives in a non-traditional NHL city that now has an NHL team, I can say from first-hand experience how much an NHL team can mean to a community, even if the community is completely unfamiliar with the sport of hockey initially. Hockey is such a fun and exciting sport to watch (unlike say, baseball!) that even if you’ve never been to a hockey game before and have zero knowledge of the sport or its rules, most people really enjoy the experience. I think hockey will catch on and become very popular in Vegas, just as it did in my city.

    • Entirely possible! Guess it’s going to be a learning experience, and I appreciate your thoughts.

  • Lewmoore

    Ok Scott, understood, you’re not a sports guy…but why bag on the only pro sports entity yet willing to give Vegas a go? Having a pro sports franchise will, as you said, bring more people to town. And, with gambling continuing to decline as a percentage of business, more reasons for more people to come is a very positive thing! Now, it will certainly be an odd situation as so many of the fans who show up likely will be for the visiting team. Speaking to Vegas residents from elsewhere (which is most of the city) they were excited about seeing “their” home team and a few had bought season tickets…even though they knew they couldn’t make all of the games as much of Vegas is working during game times. They planned to sell those tickets to visitors or whoever. I think it will work with a core local fan base and a lot of visitors. I know I’ll be making it out to see a few Predators games!

    • Great points. Just not into sports, but I totally get lots of people are. I think the worst part about having a pro sports team in Vegas is more ink will be spent on sports. Oh, well.

  • Jessica Meyer

    I am disappointed in this post and it is a shame because I love reading Vital Vegas.

  • Scott

    Hi Scott. Big fan of the blog and podcast! I wanted to give you my perspective as a Canadian who is passionate about sports, hockey, and Las Vegas. I am personally very excited to see NHL expansion in Vegas and that is the reaction I am hearing from many Canadians who frequent Vegas. I’m sure Canadian visitors don’t make up a large majority of visitors to Vegas but I look forward to planning trips to see my favorite NHL team play in Vegas each year. It’s almost like two worlds colliding since my love of hockey and Vegas have been so separate… until now!

    I certainly can’t say for certain that NHL hockey will be successful in Vegas but I do have a positive feeling about it’s future and the current state of the NHL is strong in America.

    • Canadians are actually a big, big part of Las Vegas visitation. Great to hear there’s excitement about the NHL coming here, and any town can benefit from more Canadian visitors. We’ll see about the success of the team, but if that’s a side benefit, then cool!

  • DSchwartz99lv

    I hope the new team works out. All hail the Blackjacks, or the Nevada Silverados, or the Aces, or the Hookers, or whatever!

    • Agree! How cool would it be if they used “Hookers”?

      • DSchwartz99lv

        Totally! All of the parents may lose their shit, but it’s Vegas! What happens here, stay…oh.

  • Gregg Prince

    My wife and I come to Vegas anyway. And we’re hockey fans, specifically Buffalo Sabres fans. Will we plan a trip to see the Sabres in Vegas? You betcha’! Will we go see a game if we’re in town anyway? Absolutely! We travel in the fall/winter/spring anyway so it’s a great thing for us. The part of your blog entry people seem to be missing is that you also realize this a good thing for Vegas, even though it might not be for you personally. As one @anitamartini says, “More for you!” Or in this case, ME 🙂 For the record, I thought your post was amusing as usual. Keep it up! And if all you wrote was stuff I agreed with I wouldn’t need to read it.

    • Thanks, Gregg! Love hearing people will visit based upon support for their favorite teams.

      • Gregg Prince

        One other thing I forgot: MERCHANDISE! We WILL be going home with much.

  • mattjs33

    I believe the hockey team in Las Vegas will be very successful, but maybe not in the manner intended. It stands to reason that a lot of the local folks intended to (or will) purchase season tickets with the explicit intent of selling them on the secondary market for a profit to Vegas visitors in town while their team is playing. I believe there can be local support for Vegas’ “own” team, but that might be largely overwhelmed by visitor fans from other parts of North America (particularly colder climate areas during the winter) looking to coincide an away game with a Vegas visit. The dynamic in the arena will be odd, to say the least. Coming from Chicago, where Blackhawks fans are known to travel very well, I can imagine their few visits to Las Vegas a year being accompanied by thousands of loyal fans. You might have heard that Nashville goes to great lengths each Blackhawks home game, in desperate attempts to keep Blackhawks fans out, so that it at least feels like they are playing a home game. For Las Vegas, the problem will be exponentially worse. Although I can only imagine that Black Knights jerseys will be the “it” fan item to wear the next few years, the Las Vegas hockey team might end up as the NHL version of the Washington Generals. Everyone sees them play, but no one goes to see them specifically on purpose.

    • Appreciate your thoughtful comment, and I learned a few things.

  • Todd Sterling

    Not much of a hockey fan myself, but I must say that there is something about being there live and on the glass where you can see someone getting face planted into the glass. I think Hockey is to fast for TV better to see it in person. I hope the franchise does well.

    • GT Campbell

      The first season or two might be a struggle, but I think there will be a lot of converts to the sport of hockey among locals after the first couple of seasons. When the team eventually makes the playoffs for the first time in franchise history I think the city will go nuts and will gain a devoted following. Being the only major professional sports team in town will help a lot with game attendance both among locals and among visiting tourists.

      • Thanks for the insights on this. Time will tell!

    • Bouldersteve

      Agree..Hockey does not translate well on TV. You have to see it live to appreciate it. Unfortunatly with ticket prices its hard for the average person to go.

    • We’re all rooting for it to succeed. Thanks!

  • Bouldersteve

    You make some good points about Las Vegas getting a hockey team. The fact that the other owners get to split up $500 million probably help them over look some of the problems with granting a franchise. Hockey is one of the few sports that makes most its money on the gate. TV money does not come close to the other major sports like NFL,NBA, Collage Football or MLB. At first they will be successful because its new. Unless they can build a winning team after a few years it may be tough.NHL teams tend to relocate more than other pro sports.

  • Photoncounter

    Once the team has settled in and the NHL owners are comfortable with Vegas they will award an all star game here.

    When that happens, compare the Hockey fans and experience to that of, what, 2009 when the city was flooded with the gangs associated with the NBA All Star game…. I remember it well, shameful and never again!

    Hockey is fast paced and a contact sport, on the ice. The fan base across the league is fantastic – it is very family friendly.

    I’m happy with the decision.

    • Bouldersteve

      Wonder if that is because almost all the players and fans are white. For the record i am not a racist

    • Thanks for your thoughts. A lot of people are excited.

  • AccessVegas

    Scott has learned that some people like sports! Although I must confess that I absolutely AGREE that an NHL team is not “major league”.

    Columbus, Ohio has an NHL team. Yawn. they are not a Major League city.

    Their “major league” team is the NCAA Ohio State football program. Which they were already well known for. For decades. (Scott will have to look it up).

    • Appreciate your thoughts. What is a “football”?

      • AccessVegas

        I’ll explain over a cigar sometime!

  • Wally Marshall

    It will end up costing the taxpayers millions and in the end will not be successful.

    • We’re with you. Just because the taxpayers are tourists doesn’t make it a good idea.