Dec 21, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; General view of the New York New York hotel and casino on the Las Vegas strip on Las Vegas Blvd. before the Las Vegas Bowl between the Fresno State Bulldogs and the Southern California Trojans. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
News broke today that the NHL will expand to Las Vegas and though no owner has been named it’s been rumored to be all but a done deal. The NHL expansion has been talked and rumored about for some time especially after the lockout ended and it makes for great summer talk, but this is the first time that Las Vegas was announced as a winner when it’s always been a very very big long shot.
The popular places for expansion has been Seattle Washington and Quebec City. If you researched this at all or been on social media you know that Quebec City will have an NHL arena ready to open in September 2015 and an ownership group in place. This makes perfect sense for the NHL getting another team back into Canada with everything in place financially. The 80’s/90’s team departures from Canada to the American South has to be one that everyone at the time that made the decisions has to have come to regret but we will return to this point in a bit.
The other spot is Seattle which makes sense in a lot of ways. It gives a team to the Western Conference that is on the west coast, and it would give back a major sports team to Seattle who still feels slighted that the Sonics left for Oklahoma City. Seattle’s fans are already some of the rowdiest in the NFL, one could only imagine that kind of backing in a 20,o00 seat NHL arena.
Now comes today’s announcement about Las Vegas and the many problems that a major sports team would face by playing in Vegas.
First off the gamble would be a real fan base for 41 games a season. This by far is the biggest gamble of all by Gary Bettman. Have we not learned anything about placing teams where tourism is the biggest industry. Sure Florida and Tampa Bay draw fans when Chicago or New York teams are there because of all the transplants that are wearing road jerseys, but go on Stub Hub and search for a ticket when the Winnipeg Jets are coming to town and you can go for 4-10 dollars a ticket. Tourism industry and major sports are not a match and Bettman should look at the failures of the Florida teams and hedge his bet right there with the Las Vegas expansion talk. There will be plenty of empty seats on a nightly basis when the right convention isn’t in town on the home team schedule. A home fan base will never be big enough to support a team night in and night out in Vegas.
The second gamble is the danger of having player upon player getting in some sort of trouble when their team is visiting Las Vegas. What happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas slogan doesn’t fly when you have media, Twitter, Facebook, TMZ or any other person with a smartphone out following these guys every second they are in town. Nothing good can come of it even from the simple hey look so and so was at the craps tables until 8am then skated his worst game of the year at 7pm to anything illegal happening during their time in town. There is also the arguement that the home team would have a huge advanatage every game.
Lastly, there of course is the gambling problem and that is something that people will argue that UNLV has been there this whole time and not been affected, but this is pro sports and money changes hands every day by these games outcomes so to just throw a blanket over the gambling issue and a team located in Vegas in a bit naive.
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Sure, it’s sounds like the best road trip anybody could put together, let’s go to Vegas see the Hawks play and have some fun, but is this really how Bettman wants to gamble the NHL name after all it’s been through?
What do you think? Should the NHL relocate to Vegas?
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