According to a report from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province, NHL expansion to Las Vegas is a done deal.
Sources close to the situation have indicated Las Vegas is a done deal, the only thing to be determined being which owner will be entitled to proclaim that he brought the first major league sports franchise to Sin City.
Gary Bettman has avoided talking about expansion, saying the NHL had no current plans to grow, and yet rumors have persisted about meetings being held in potential cities. Seattle has long been a favorite to receive an expansion team, but considering a new arena is needed and current municipal law stipulates it be constructed for a NBA franchise, Seattle may be a few years off. Quebec City has an arena under construction and Nordiques fans have not been shy to voice their wish for a return of NHL hockey to the city. Then came the rumors of mutual interest between the NHL and an ownership group in Las Vegas.
Many have scoffed at the idea of another team in the desert, and who could blame them! Hasn’t the NHL learned its lesson from the Phoenix Coyotes debacle? However, the lure of being the first professional sports league to have a franchise in Sin City is apparently too much for the NHL to ignore.
While the Arizona Coyotes experiment continues, perhaps the situation in Vegas would be a little different. The arena currently under construction relies heavily on suites, which will likely be purchased by casinos to be comped to guests.
The Vegas arena being built by AEG & MGM will also be heavily populated with suites, which you’d assume the casinos would scoop up.
— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) August 27, 2014
Why the rush to Vegas? It appears that the MLS also intends to be the first professional league to establish a team in Vegas and with the young soccer league expanding rapidly over the last few years, the NHL may not have much time to beat them to the punch.
It is likely the NHL will not confirm or deny the Province’s report, so it remains to be seen whether this rumor is accurate. The arena in Quebec City will open in 2015, so perhaps we will see a dual expansion announcement at a later date.