With Las Vegas preparing to open a new 20,000 seat arena in 2016, there are now two reports that the NHL is prepared to award the city a franchise as part of a four-team expansion plan.
Tony Gallagher of TheProvince.com reports that NHL expansion to Las Vegas is a “done deal.”
That seems like a bit of a stretch since the report also indicates that the league has yet to pick an owner for the new franchise.
However, the framework of this report appeared to be confirmed by a second report from Howard Bloom of SportsBizNews.com saying the NHL actually has plans to add four teams with Quebec City, a second team in Toronto, and Seattle joining Las Vegas in 2017.
NHL expansion — four teams added by 2017, Quebec City, Toronto, Seattle, and Las Vegas $US1.4b in expansion fees
— Howard Bloom (@SportsBizNews) August 27, 2014
In response to the reports, the NHL has said expansion is “not in our plans.”
Despite the potential benefits of having professional sports teams in Las Vegas, the four major professional sports leagues in North America have so far resisted the temptation to put a franchise in Sin City.
That appears to be changing.
The size of the Las Vegas market (no. 42 among Nielsen television markets) has proven to work very well in the NHL and the NBA where teams don’t have to compete with larger NFL or MLB teams for the attention of sports fans (e.g. Oklahoma City, San Antonio).
Las Vegas also has an unlimited potential for corporate partnerships, which have become so important to professional teams, as well as no state income tax for the players.
The NHL has also not been completely against the idea of playing in Las Vegas. The L.A. Kings play the “Frozen Fury,” an annual preseason game, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
And now the city is building a new $US375 million arena that a hockey team can call home.
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