It’s official: We’ll see a Las Vegas NHL team for the 2017-2018 season, as the league announced an expansion franchise awarded to billionaire Bill Foley and casino operators Joe and Gavin Maloof for $500 million.
The team doesn’t have a name, and despite the speculation that Black Knights would end up being the franchise branding, the expansion franchise will host a name-the-team contest in the future. The NHL Board of Governors voted to approve the 31st league franchise before Commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement during a press conference at the Encore at Wynn Las Vegas. The $500 million expansion fee will be split between the existing 30 franchises.
The team will play at T-Mobile Arena, which immediately becomes one of the leading venues in the league. T-Mobile Arena opened in April and has a capacity of 17,368 for hockey. With over 14,000 deposits committed for season tickets, you can expect plenty of full houses once the 2017 season launches.
For Las Vegas, it’s the first major sports team in Sin City, but probably won’t be the last one. There’s a local effort to land the Oakland Raiders with a billion-dollar-plus domed stadium, and today Commissioner Rob Manfred left open the possibility that Vegas could land an MLB team in the future as well.
Also addressed today: the status of an expansion bid for a Quebec City franchise from Quebecor, which was deferred and not rejected. The official word from the NHL:
The NHL announced that while it views Quebec City as a viable option for an NHL franchise in the future, the League’s geographic imbalance, the difficulty of bringing two new teams in at the same time and the struggling Canadian dollar led the BOG to defer the application.
The Canadian dollar was trading at 78 cents on the U.S. dollar on Tuesday.
While the concern with the Canadian dollar is very real and the geographic imbalance is definitely a concern, it’s hard to say that adding two teams instead of one represents any more work for anyone at the league level.