|Las Vegas NHL team|
|City||Las Vegas, Nevada|
|Home arena||T-Mobile Arena|
A National Hockey League expansion team in Las Vegas, Nevada is set to begin play in the 2017–18 NHL season. The team, which will receive a permanent name later, is set to be based at T-Mobile Arena. The franchise is owned by Black Knight Sports & Entertainment, a consortium led by Bill Foley. The announcement of Las Vegas receiving an NHL team was made on June 22, 2016.
Ice hockey interest in Las Vegas dates back to 1991, when the first ever outdoor game in the NHL's modern era was held in Las Vegas, with the Los Angeles Kings facing the New York Rangers outside Caesars Palace in the preseason. The minor league Las Vegas Thunder professional ice hockey team operated out of the Thomas & Mack Center from 1993 until 1999 when the team's lease of the facility expired. Every year since 1997 (except the lockout year of 2004), Las Vegas has hosted Frozen Fury, a pre-season competition between the Los Angeles Kings and the Colorado Avalanche at the 16,800-seat MGM Grand Garden Arena. Although the NHL Awards ceremonies are held in Las Vegas, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said it "has nothing to do with" it being a potential relocation or expansion spot. The media had speculated openly about a plan involving the Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer to bring the Phoenix Coyotes to Nevada.
Rumors of a Las Vegas expansion team surfaced again in August 2014, focusing on a new indoor arena, now called the T-Mobile Arena, being constructed in the city as a joint venture between Anschutz Entertainment Group (owners of the Los Angeles Kings) and MGM Resorts International. The Province newspaper reported that a Las Vegas team was a "done deal". Deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied claims that the NHL had plans to expand. On November 12, 2014, it was reported by the New York Post that the league had selected the Maloof family—former owners of the National Basketball Association's Sacramento Kings, and a minority owner of the Palms Casino Resort—along with Bill Foley, to lead the ownership group for a Las Vegas expansion team. However, neither Foley, the Maloofs, AEG, or MGM commented on the speculation. Daly was reportedly in Las Vegas for a meeting, and had checked on the progress on the new arena; Daly again denied that the NHL had any plans to expand, and that the league had "not discussed or identified potential ownership groups publicly."
On December 8, 2014, following a meeting with the NHL's board of governors, commissioner Gary Bettman announced that he would not object to Foley holding a season ticket drive to gauge interest in a Las Vegas team, indicating the possibility that the league may actually consider a Las Vegas team. However, Bettman also warned the media to "[not] make more out of this than it is." During an interview with Hockey Night in Canada's Elliotte Friedman aired on December 13, 2014, Foley revealed that Wayne Gretzky was acting as an "unofficial" advisor to the proposed team, and that, although there would most likely be a vote to determine its name, his preferred name for the proposed team was the Las Vegas Black Knights—named in tribute to the Army Black Knights.
On February 10, 2015 the season ticket drive began with interested parties placing ten percent deposits on season tickets for a Las Vegas NHL team to begin play in the 2016–17 season at the under construction T-Mobile Arena. Within 36 hours of the beginning of the drive, 5,000 season ticket deposits were collected by Hockey Vision Las Vegas, an organization representing the Bill Foley and the Maloof families as owners of the potential franchise, bringing the ticket drive 50 percent of the way to the self-determined goal of 10,000 season ticket deposits. Hockey Vision Las Vegas confirmed the season ticket drive achieved their 10,000 season ticket deposit goal by April 2015 and has begun a push into corporate and casino ticket sales to supplement the 10,000 local individual/small business season ticket deposits with a new stated goal of 13,000 total season ticket sales for the team's inaugural season.
Las Vegas appears to be the front-runner in the announced start of the expansion process, on June 24, 2015. Prospective owner Bill Foley has secured more than 13,200 season-ticket deposits for the multipurpose arena under construction near the Las Vegas Strip, and Bettman doesn't hide the league's intrigue about being the first major pro team in this growing desert town — while also realizing the risk of jumping into another non-traditional market and a gambling mecca. "We're going to take a deep dive and look at what there is in terms of the interest that's being expressed," Bettman said. "Obviously, Bill Foley got a great response to his season-ticket drive." On July 21, 2015, the NHL confirmed it had received an application for an expansion team from Bill Foley for Las Vegas. On August 5, 2015, the NHL announced it had invited Las Vegas to move into Phase II of the league expansion bid. The bid subsequently advanced to Phase III, which ended on September 4. On September 29, Bill Foley and Quebecor met the NHL's executive committee in New York City to present their respective bids. However, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stated in a press conference after the NHL's Board of Governors meeting that though the league continues to explore the possibility of expansion, no deadline has been established for a decision. Commissioner Bettman also said that expansion requires a three-quarters affirmative vote from the Board of Governors, but the members of the executive committee would first have to make a recommendation to the group. Leading into the league owners' meetings to be held on June 22, 2016, the Associated Press reported that Las Vegas had won an expansion bid and that terms for the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft were being finalized.
Though Reno and Las Vegas have had (and still have) minor league teams in various sports, this team will be the first professional sports team from one of the major professional sports leagues in Nevada; its only potential competition would be the National Football League's (NFL) Oakland Raiders, who are also exploring the market as a potential relocation candidate.
On July 13, 2016 George McPhee was named the team's first general manager. McPhee had previously served as GM of the Washington Capitals from 1997 to 2014. He most recently served as a special advisor to New York Islanders GM Garth Snow.
- ↑ Rosen, Dan. "Las Vegas awarded NHL franchise", National Hockey League, June 22, 2016. Retrieved on June 22, 2016.
- ↑ Los Angeles Kings. SAVE THE DATE - FROZEN FURY XIII - OCT. 2, 2010. Press release. Retrieved on June 4, 2016.
- ↑ "NHL head says league no closer to team in Vegas", CNN, April 6, 2009. Retrieved on May 22, 2010.
- ↑ "Hollywood aspirations for NHL", The Globe and Mail.
- ↑ "NHL says no credibility to report of Las Vegas expansion team", Las Vegas Sun, August 27, 2014. Retrieved on August 28, 2014.
- ↑ "NHL denies expansion report, including a second team in Toronto", Toronto Star, August 27, 2014. Retrieved on August 28, 2014.
- ↑ "Gallagher: Bettman has changed his tune on NHL expansion", The Province. Retrieved on August 28, 2014.
- ↑ "NHL picks owners for likely Vegas team", New York Post. Retrieved on 13 November 2014.
- ↑ Maloof family joins effort to land Las Vegas NHL team. Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved on 13 November 2014.
- ↑ NHL gets serious about Las Vegas; can Canadiens redefine themselves?. Retrieved on 10 December 2014.
- ↑ "NHL allows Las Vegas to explore expansion interest". Retrieved on 10 December 2014.
- ↑ Will Las Vegas be called the Black Knights?. Retrieved on 14 December 2014.
- ↑ Gretzky an ‘unofficial’ advisor to NHL in Vegas. Retrieved on 14 December 2014.
- ↑ Snellas, Alan (2015-02-12). NHL ticket drive already halfway to goal | Las Vegas Review-Journal. Reviewjournal.com. Retrieved on 2015-07-12.
- ↑ Snellas, Alan (2015-04-11). Businessman behind NHL drive has blue-jeans, relaxed approach | Las Vegas Review-Journal. Reviewjournal.com. Retrieved on 2015-07-12.
- ↑ "NHL announces start of expansion process - NHL on CBC Sports - Hockey news, opinion, scores, stats, standings", Cbc.ca, 2015-06-24. Retrieved on 2015-07-12.
- ↑ McLaren, Ian (2015-08-05). Las Vegas group invited to participate in Phase 2 of NHL expansion application process - NHL on The Score - Scores, standings, news, leaders. thescore.com. Retrieved on 2015-08-05.
- ↑ "Quebecor makes pitch to NHL in hopes of landing franchise", National Hockey League, September 30, 2015. Retrieved on October 6, 2015.
- ↑ Rosen, Dan (September 29, 2015). Commissioner: No timetable for NHL expansion. National Hockey League. Retrieved on October 6, 2015.
- ↑ Beacham, Greg (June 14, 2016). NHL rolls the dice on Las Vegas expansion. Retrieved on June 15, 2016.
- ↑ Battista, Judy. "Mark Davis' Las Vegas aspirations for Raiders remain in limbo", National Football League, May 24, 2016. Retrieved on June 4, 2016.
- ↑ Schrotenboer, Brent. "Raiders owner Mark Davis: Las Vegas is 'absolutely an NFL city'", February 6, 2016. Retrieved on June 4, 2016.
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