The National Hockey League (NHL) recently announced that it has granted an expansion franchise to Las Vegas that will begin play in the 2017-2018 season.
The expansion franchise, which will be the league’s 31st team, was approved unanimously during its most recent Board of Governors meeting. The NHL becomes the first of the four major United States professional sports leagues to put a team in Las Vegas, and is the leagues first expansion team since the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild came into the league in the 2000-01 season.
Billionaire businessman Bill Foley spearheaded the Las Vegas expansion bid and will be the franchise’s principal owner. He also will be responsible for paying the $500 million expansion fee, which will be distributed equally among the existing 30 teams.
Foley hopes to have the name of the team and its logo in place by the start of the 2016-17 season so they can start selling merchandise. His preference is reportedly Black Knights, largely because of his ties to the U.S. Military Academy as a West Point graduate, but he indicated that he plans to work with the NHL to come up with the appropriate franchise name.
“Our great sports town now has a major league franchise, the NHL,” Foley says. “It’s the best of the leagues. It’s a legendary league. Las Vegas is my home along with 2.3 million other people. We want everyone to be a fan. We’re dedicated to it. We’ll leave no stone unturned in our dedication and our pursuit of hockey here in Las Vegas, not just for our team, but for the community.”
The team will play its home games at T-Mobile Arena, which is located just west of the Las Vegas Strip. The arena opened in April and has capacity for 17,368 fans. Las Vegas has received more than 14,000 deposits for season tickets and has sold all of the luxury seats in T-Mobile Arena’s luxury seats since Foley launched a season-ticket drive 16 months ago. Foley recently said 400 more season tickets were sold in the past week.
For more information, visit nhl.com. — J.L.