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SPORTS - When will the NHL finally come to Vegas?

STRIPLVSPORTS

When will the NHL finally come to Vegas?

by Matthew Ross

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So the National Hockey League didn’t have their annual Las Vegas awards show. In recent years, the league had held its player awards show in Sin City, in the hopes of luring celebrities and creating a bit of a buzz for its sport. However, due to the sport’s lockout and condensed schedule, the NHL decided to forego the annual soiree. But that hasn’t stopped many from wondering if the league will ever put a team in Nevada. The city has seen its fair share of preseason games and minor league action. In 1991, the Kings and Rangers played an outdoor game outside Caesars Palace. In the 1990’s, the Las Vegas Thunder played in the International Hockey League. We’ve also seen the Kings and Avalanche square off several times at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

 

So what will it take for the league to put a team in Vegas? It’s not like there are a ton of more suitable markets beating down its doors. Sure, the Quebec City market had NHL hockey until 1995 and is building a new arena. In addition, we know about the calls from cities like Seattle and Portland, Oregon to procure an NHL team. But seriously, can any of them top Las Vegas – the glitz and glamour, the dense population, the amount of corporate money, etc.? The only problem? This nagging fear from all pro sports that a professional team in the city will be susceptible to the criminal element and gambling issues. If hockey really wants to make a splash and compete in the pro sports landscape, it can no longer dismiss Las Vegas as a non-viable NHL market. It simply makes good business sense to bring a professional hockey franchise to Nevada. The hottest entertainment spectacles in the world perform in Las Vegas, and the NHL shouldn’t view its product as any different.

If Cirque du Soleil is a novelty act, then why shouldn’t the NHL be considered in the same vein. Think about it, you would have guys in unique-looking protective gear, exhibiting incredible speed, gliding on ice in the middle of the desert, even occasionally dropping the gloves to engage in a riveting fight. If the sport didn’t yet exist and a visionary Vegas showman brought the idea to town, wouldn’t you buy a ticket based on this description?

Smarten up, NHL; relocate or expand a team to Las Vegas, sit back and reap the incredible rewards.

Matthew Ross is a longtime sports freelancer and radio host, and the
founder of the recently launched sportsreported.com. Follow @tsnmatthew.

 

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