They built the arena, now they are just waiting to find out if the team will come.
Businessman Bill Foley, the man behind trying to bring an NHL team to Las Vegas, has done everything he possibly can to get the league to expand to Sin City. Most notably, he helped get T-Mobile Arena to open its doors on April 6, something that had been a longshot for years before MGM Resorts International and Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) teamed up to privately fund the construction of the 20,000-seat venue.
It’s clear that MGM and AEG believe the “hockey in Vegas” dream will become a reality soon, as they have reportedly held off on scheduling any events between September 2017 and June 2018 in anticipation that games will be played there during that time. Locker rooms have also not been painted yet with space reserved for a Zamboni room and equipment like sticks and skates. So when will they know for sure?
The NHL’s executive committee on expansion still needs to meet to vote on whether or not there will be expansion teams in Vegas and/or Quebec City for the 2017-18 season. Currently, the league is unbalanced with 16 teams in the East and 14 in the West, so adding two new franchises certainly makes sense from that perspective. The league’s Board of Governors would then need to finalize the plans with a vote and determine if there will be an expansion draft following next season. All of this could happen within the next month, although many hoped it would have already taken place.
Patience is the key for those awaiting the NHL’s decision, as there are also rumors that a franchise could relocate to Vegas instead. Last year, the Arizona Coyotes had a dispute with the city of Glendale regarding their lease, but that has since been resolved. The Carolina Hurricanes are another possibility to move, although Foley has made it clear that his top priority is a new expansion team rather than relocating an old one.
Talks of the Oakland Raiders moving to Vegas have only fueled speculation that the city could get two pro sports teams by 2020. Right now, one would be enough to help open the door for another in the near future. At least the NHL has an arena built that can house a team, which is not yet the case with regards to the Raiders. A proposal for a domed stadium where the Raiders would reside is on the table, but the cost is estimated to be more than $1 billion, with owner Mark Davis pledging to pay $500 million of it.
Regardless, the NHL Awards will be in Vegas again on June 22, this time hosted at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. You can bet NHL commissioner Gary Bettman will address this hot topic by then as more rumors continue to heat up. One thing’s for sure, Vegas wants hockey, and they have gambled that the feeling is mutual.