NHL Franchise to Las Vegas: Latest Details Surrounding Potential Team

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 24, 2014

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 27:  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks during the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Billionaire William Foley has been linked to potentially bringing an NHL franchise to Las Vegas as the league explores the possibility.

Continue for updates.

Updates from Wednesday, Nov. 12

NHL Chooses Owners of Expansion Team

Josh Kosman and Larry Brooks of the New York Post provide the latest buzz surrounding an expansion team landing in Las Vegas:

The National Hockey League has chosen the team of William Foley and the Maloof family as the owners of a Las Vegas expansion team, The Post has learned.

The league has not determined a timetable for expansion, but two western US cities are expected to be selected for new franchises, according to reports.

One of those cities — if approved by NHL owners — will be Las Vegas, sources said.

The franchise fee will be about $400 million, a source said.

 

Updates from Tuesday, Nov. 11

NHL Deputy Commissioner Talks Potential Las Vegas Franchise

Michael Russo of Star Tribune talked to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly about a possible NHL franchise in Las Vegas:

'I got a variety of different responses,” Daly said. “The demographics of the market are pretty good in terms of average annual income. Las Vegas natives earn good salaries, good livings. I think they genuinely like sports. It’s a nighttime city, so it would have to be uniquely scheduled in terms of focusing maybe on industry nights as opposed to your typical Thursday-Saturday nights where everybody would be working.

'Clearly we think for a Las Vegas market to support a professional sports franchise, you need the support of locals.'

(...)

If the NHL did expand to Las Vegas, Daly said the league would perhaps request Nevada’s legislature to take the franchise’s games down in Las Vegas sports books. UNLV was successful getting that done with its college basketball team years ago.

'It’s really more a visceral rationale than anything else,' Daly said. 'You don’t want guys in the stands with bet tickets in their hands and the only reason they’re watching the game is so they can cash in on a bet afterwards. That’s not an environment you want to foster or create as a professional sports league.'

Thursday, Oct. 30

MGM Resorts' CFO Speaks on Potential Franchise

Howard Stutz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported on the potential of an NHL franchise coming to Las Vegas:

The chief financial officer for MGM Resorts International said Thursday the company has held discussions with a group looking to bring a National Hockey League team to Las Vegas, but the talks were preliminary.

The casino operator is building a $350 million sports arena and event center behind New York-New York on the Strip. The company’s partner in the arena, AEG, owns the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings.

(...)

D’Arrigo didn’t go into details on the talks and whether the group was looking to move an existing NHL team to Las Vegas or seeking an expansion franchise.

'We would be supportive of an NHL team coming to our arena,' D’Arrigo said. 'We’re highly interested and we have been in discussions with a group.'

Friday, Oct. 24

The idea of bringing a professional sports franchise to the gambling mecca of Las Vegas is often discussed but never acted upon. William Foley, a 70-year-old billionaire, is hoping to change that by bringing an NHL team to the city.  

Josh Kosman and Larry Brooks of the New York Post report Foley is in "advanced talks" with the league about acquiring a team with an eye on a 2017-18 debut season. One potential deal would be buying the Arizona Coyotes and relocating them:

One scenario is for Foley to buy the money-losing Arizona Coyotes and move them to Las Vegas, a source said.

Earlier this month, Philadelphia hedge fund manager Andrew Barroway reached a deal to acquire a controlling stake in the Coyotes franchise. Barroway sees flipping the team as a good investment, the source added.

The report states an NHL spokesperson denied any discussions about moving the Arizona franchise, but didn't comment any further on any talks with Foley.

Another possible route would be expansion. The league currently features 30 teams, with 16 in the Eastern Conference and 14 in the Western Conference. Adding to more to the West to make the totals even would seem to make sense.

Back in June, however, commissioner Gary Bettman downplayed the idea of adding more teams. He also said not enough information was available to know if Las Vegas could support a team, as noted by Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

"Right now, we're not looking to expand. I know Las Vegas is an important city. Whether or not it's a city for the NHL to put a team in is still to be determined," Bettman said. "We have not done any investigating as to whether or not the city could support the NHL or looked at potential ownership groups. If the owners were to approve expansion, we would certainly begin looking more closely at Las Vegas and other potential markets."

If the league did decide to add more teams, it's not a guarantee they would stop at 32. Bob McKenzie of TSN suggested 33 teams, including one in Las Vegas:

The issue of gambling would also be paramount in any discussion about moving a professional team to the city, of course. Another key issue is facilities, with Orleans Arena, which previously housed the ECHL's Las Vegas Wranglers, holding less than 10,000 people.

Ultimately, it doesn't sound like any type of agreement or announcement is imminent. But if the NHL determines that a team in the city could be a profitable venture, it's something with a good chance of becoming reality at some point in the not too distant future.

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