Exterior photo of T-Mobile Arena. Home of the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights.

Image Credit: David Jones (CC BY 2.0)

I've always said it's hard for sports fans to get excited for hockey when it's 100 degrees outside. The NHL isn't working in Phoenix and the Arizona Coyotes could soon relocate to another city. Hockey didn't work in Atlanta, Georgia; twice. The Florida Panthers in Miami consistently lead the NHL in the league's lowest attendance. Could Las Vegas, Nevada be the exception to this trend when the NHL expands to 31 teams for the 2017 season? Only time will tell. The team's nickname will be decided on in September of 2016 and the team will play at the brand new T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas strip. 


Businessmen Billy Foley, a form Ottawa resident, is the main culprit for the NHL moving to Las Vegas. Foley is the owner of the Black Knight Sports and Entertainment. The Las Vegas Black Knights and Las Vegas Aces seem to be the most popular nicknames of those suggested thus far. The NHL's roots in Las Vegas can be traced back to an outdoor preseason game in 1991 when the Los Angeles Kings hosted the New York Rangers at Caesar's Palace. Since 1997, the Los Angeles Kings have hosted a preseason game at MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Uncoincidentally, the owners of the brand new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, AEG, also own the LA Kings. 

Between February and June of 2015, Black Knight Sports and Entertainment Group and Hockey Vision Las Vegas held a season ticket drive to gauge interest for hockey in the Las Vegas area. They were able to secure more than 14,000 season ticket deposits. T-Mobile Arena will have a capacity of 17,500 for hockey games. Quebecor, a communications giant in Montreal, lost the bid for an expansion team to the Las Vegas based group. Quebecor was making an effort to bring the NHL back to Quebec City, Quebec and revive the Quebec Nordiques. The Quebec Nordiques became the Colorado Avalanche more two decades ago. Hedge fund professional Chris R. Hansen and his investors were also previously trying to bring an NHL team to Seattle.

The NHL's expansion to Las Vegas was the first expansion since 2000 when the Minnesota Wild began playing in St. Paul. We can all speculate that the NHL will add another expansion in coming years to give the league an even 32 teams for conference play. Las Vegas will compete in the pacific division of the Western Conference. Bleacher Report is currently speculating about who will land on the team's roster in 2017.

Whether or not the transplanted residents living in Las Vegas take to their new professional team, you can bet that Las Vegas just became the favorite road trip for opposing NHL fans. The city only has 500,000 residents but thriving tourism and strong corporate presence.  I don't think we'll ever see a Winter Classic in Las Vegas, though. 



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