Discussions regarding the National Hockey League’s (NHL) expansion will be the primary agenda of a meeting next week.
A special session is expected to take place on Wednesday in New York where the NHL’s executive committee will meet to discuss the bids by the two official expansion applicants, Quebec City and Las Vegas, to join the league for the 2017-2018 season, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. While a formal decision to award a team isn’t expected to result from the meeting, the meeting itself suggests the league is closer to a conclusion. News of the meeting, designed to be somewhat secretive, was first reported on TSN‘s Dreger Report. Due to the meeting’s nature, until the process is finalized the NHL won’t announce its planned direction or provide any information regarding any progress that has been made. That finalization could take months.
Heading the Las Vegas bid, billionaire businessman Bill Foley while aware of the meeting said that he won’t be in attendance. He also said he doesn’t have plans to be in Nashville, Tennessee at the end of the month for the NHL’s All-Star Weekend. Prospective owner Foley has for months been trying to determine if there is enough local support to bring the first major pro sports team to Las Vegas.
The application process has been overseen by the 10-member executive committee, which is chaired by Jeremy Jacobs owner of the Boston Bruins, since applications were filed in July by Foley and the Quebecor Corporation to join the NHL. Quebecor has its bid in to return the NHL to Quebec City. While a nonrefundable deposit of $2 million was required for both applications, $500 million per team is expected to be the overall expansion fee should the teams be granted a franchise.
The committee faces numerous issues regarding the expansion including; salary cap questions, if the league should be expanded, and if so by how many teams, and how it would be run among others. The NHL’s most recent expansion took place in 2000 when Minnesota and Columbus joined the league. Back then the league did not operate under a salary cap. Addressing those issues and providing definitive solutions that can then be presented to the Board of Governors is reportedly the purpose of Wednesday’s meeting. A January 30 meeting is scheduled for the 30-member board in Nashville.
Even though a final decision has yet to be reached, almost 14,000 deposits on season tickets have been made by fans for the Las Vegas NHL team. Foley also has a lease in place at the T-Mobile Arena behind New York-New York and the Monte Carlo. He also has a request for proposal with Clark County to construct a facility to practice in off Interstate 215. Last month Foley said that he keeps Commissioner Gary Bettman as well as other league officials abreast of what’s happening in Las Vegas, so the NHL is aware of all that. The league has thoroughly vetted Foley’s ability to finance the team, arena lease details, proposed marketing plans, and ticket sales. To his knowledge there are no issues, so now they play the waiting game.