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Rolling the Dice in Las Vegas


It appears that the National Hockey League is betting that Las Vegas, Nevada will be an excellent place to set up shop. Though the league has not officially announced that one more franchise will be added, there have been enough clues that Bill Foley and his partners will get a team providing that the 30 existing NHL franchise owners extract $500 million from the Foley group’s pockets. By expanding, the 30 owners have now established a base price to do business if a franchise goes onto the market. Of course, the price someone is willing to spend to buy a team is in the eye of the beholder.

For NHL owners, there has been a long time fascination with Las Vegas going back two decades. There were various rumors about owners kicking the tires in Las Vegas and the NHL has been doing business in the city for a long time with exhibition games and awards presentations. There was some belief that Las Vegas was ready for an NHL team around 2007 when an arena proposal surfaced and there was a rumor that there was an owner in waiting, but neither the arena nor the owner materialized.

The fact that Nevada has a sports book and legalized gambling was not a deal breaker. The questions about Las Vegas’ viability as an NHL market have been answered by the league’s expansion committee. Here are the three basic questions. Is there local government support? Yes. Does Las Vegas have a large enough TV market and will TV produce significant amount of revenue for a Las Vegas team? NHL owners seem to think yes. Is there enough of a corporate market? Again, NHL owners seem to think yes although the corporate market may instead mean casino backing. For Las Vegas, there is still the final minute on the clock to protect the lead but it appears Bill Foley is about ready to get his franchise.

By Evan Weiner for The Politics of Sports Business.

This article was republished with permission from the original publisher, Evan Weiner.


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