Las Vegas is getting its first major professional sports franchise. Last month, the NHL board of governors formally voted to expand the league to the city long held at arm’s length because of its legalized sports gambling. Quebec City was also considered for expansion but will not be awarded a team at this time.
The Las Vegas bid was secured in part because of 14,000 season ticket deposits that have already been sold for the new NHL-ready T-Mobile Arena, the new sports and entertainment venue that opened on the Strip in April. The arena, jointly privately funded by MGM and AEG, holds a capacity of 17,500 for hockey.
Despite concerns about its geographic location in the Mojave Desert, Las Vegas has a history of hockey support, as the IHL and ECHL have both had teams on or near the Strip in the past two decades.
Bill Foley, the prospective owner for the NHL's Vegas expansion team, is required to pay a record $500 million fee, which represents a massive increase over the $80 million expansion fee paid by Minnesota and Columbus in 2000.
The other major professional sports leagues in North America are also taking a close look at Las Vegas. In the NFL, the Oakland Raiders have had serious discussions with the city’s leaders about building a $1.4 billion stadium and relocating to the Las Vegas Strip.