The dream of billionaire businessman Bill Foley to bring top-level professional ice hockey to Las Vegas looks set to come true with the National Hockey League (NHL) reportedly due to name the city as home to its 31st franchise.
According to a report from Scott Burnside published by ESPN, the NHL is to use its next Board Of Governor’s meeting on June 22 to formally select Las Vegas over Quebec City as the choice for its latest expansion providing organizers can raise the $500 million fee.
Foley is the Chairman of commercial and residential mortgage provider Fidelity National Financial and announced plans in February of last year via his Black Knight Sports And Entertainment vehicle to bring an NHL franchise to southern Nevada.
The NHL has not expanded since 2000 when the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets entered the league and the Las Vegas team could begin play in the new 17,500-seat T-Mobile Arena, which was built with private money by MGM Resorts International and Los Angeles Kings owner Anschutz Entertainment, as soon as the 2017/18 season.
“This could be a watershed moment for our community and sports in southern Nevada,” Jonas Peterson, President and Chief Executive Officer for the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, told ESPN. “Having a professional hockey team will not only boost our economy but also our sense of community pride.”
The June 22 meeting of current team owners will take place at the Hard Rock Hotel And Casino in Las Vegas as part of the annual NHL Awards ceremony with The Associated Press reporting that the necessary two-thirds approval vote for the new franchise was a “done deal” following a recommendation of the league’s executive committee.
Black Knight Sports And Entertainment earlier declared that it had received season ticket deposits from over 14,000 people alongside NHL approval to play in the T-Mobile Arena behind the New York-New York Hotel And Casino. It additionally stated that team members would practice at the Las Vegas Ice Center or Sobe Ice Arena while it constructs a new state-of-the-art two-rink facility near Summerlin.
“I’m excited but I’m waiting for the official announcement from the NHL,” Steve Sisolak, Clark County Commission Chairman and the first person to make a deposit on a season ticket, told ESPN. “Las Vegas has been waiting for this for decades. We’re a major league city. We deserve major league sports.”
With a metropolitan population of nearly 2.2 million, Las Vegas is largest city in the United States without a major professional sports franchise. The Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL) have previously held discussions about moving to southern Nevada with owner Mark Davis suggesting that the team and his partners, which include Las Vegas Sands Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Sheldon Adelson, could build a $1.4 billion domed stadium near The Strip with substantial public money.