We end 2016 with a countdown of the 10 biggest stories of the year on Arena Digest, as chosen by editors and partially based on page views. Today, #2: The Vegas Golden Knights.
For Las Vegas, the wait finally came to an end. The city that had long been discussed as a destination for major sports joined a big league in 2016, welcoming the NHL and the Vegas Golden Knights.
Throughout the years, Las Vegas had been discussed by numerous sports leagues. It was one of the largest cities in the United States without a major team, and for Nevada—which has never had a team from one of the major North American sports leagues in its borders—it represented the strongest chance of landing a team.
Years of discussion finally reached a satisfying point in June, when the NHL announced that Las Vegas was being awarded its 31st team, which would begin play in the 2017-18 season. That decision came after a high-profile, and hard-fought effort to bring the sport to Las Vegas, which made about as strong of a case as possible for joining the league.
One of the centerpieces of the NHL proposal in Las Vegas was T-Mobile Arena. Located on The Strip, T-Mobile Arena opened to plenty of hype in the spring as a multiuse venue that would attract major events and performances. However, it was apparent that the end goal for the venue was a major sports franchise, and the arena was designed to be suitable for hockey in the event that Las Vegas obtained a team.
Ensuring that Las Vegas secured an entry in the league was a group that included billionaire Bill Foley, who has become a prominent figure with the franchise. One of the advantages Foley could offer the NHL was an aggressive outreach in the Las Vegas area, one that had resulted in robust support. Around the time of the selection in June, Las Vegas had reportedly secured more 14,000 season ticket depositions.
By September, that number had increased, as the team announced that it had sold out its stock of season tickets for the inaugural 2017-18 season. At about that same time, speculation was swirling as to what the team’s name would be—it was known that some variation of Knights would likely be used, but team officials were keeping their final decision under wraps.
Finally, on November 22, during an event at T-Mobile Arena, the name and logo for the Vegas Golden Knights was revealed. The name has run into some problems since it was announced, with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office denying a trademark application for the name, citing a conflict with the College of Saint Rose Golden Knights. The NHL and the Golden Knights have vowed to appeal this decision, and the dispute will carry over into 2017.
However, it does not at all overshadow the other developments in Las Vegas over the past year. The city can finally call itself home to a major sports franchise and, if its push to attract the team is any indication, it will turn out to be strong base for the NHL.
Previously in our Top Ten Stories of 2016 List:
#8: Arizona Coyotes Pitch New Arena
#9: Quebec City Left out By NHL