In a move everyone saw coming, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that by unanimous vote of the Board of Governors, Las Vegas will be joining the NHL in time for the ’17-18 season. In Vegas terms, they’re going all in.
The NHL’s first expansion team since the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild in the 2000-01 season, Las Vegas marks the first of the four major North American professional sports leagues to put a team in Sin City.
Bill Foley, a billionaire businessman, is the franchise’s principal owner and will dole out $500 million in expansion fees that will be shared equally by the 30 current franchises.
“I believe it’s going to be great for Las Vegas. A franchise will give Las Vegas an identity other than being a tourist town with great restaurants and gambling and shows and so on. It will give the residents of Las Vegas something to really identify with that’s going to be theirs. And the arena’s unbelievable” – Bill Foley
With 14,000 deposits for season tickets and every luxury suite sold, fan and corporate business interest is strong. It’s easy to understand why the NHL is doubling down in the desert.
During the press conference, the name Black Knights was mentioned, but nothing was confirmed. A team name and logo is expected to be chosen and ready toward the end of this season. The team will play in the T-Mobile Arena, right near the infamous Vegas Strip. It can hold 17,368 fans.
Quebec City, also vying for a team, has been deferred for now. A weak Canadian dollar, the logistics of adding two teams at the same time, and a lopsided Eastern conference were given as justification.