It’s a big day in the sports world! The NHL announced Wednesday afternoon that they have approved the Las Vegas bid for an expansion team. The 31st NHL team will begin play in Las Vegas at T-Mobile Arena on the Strip in the 2017-2018 season. The expansion draft will take place next June, with the new franchise required to pick a player from each team in the league.
This is big for a couple reasons. The most notable one is that it makes it that much easier for the NFL to eventually relocate a team to Las Vegas. I don’t anticipate the league expanding to 34 teams anytime soon, and the Oakland Raiders have been pushing on a potential Las Vegas move. I don’t think this will impact the Raiders decision in a negative fashion, as I think Raiders season tickets will sell well even with a hockey team in town. For those wondering, the ownership group in Las Vegas has sold a little over 13,000 season ticket deposits, and that did not include any deals with casinos. If the Raiders move to town, aside from just Las Vegas sales, I think Southern California sales would be solid. There are already people who travel from LA to Oakland during the season to watch the Raiders. A trip to Las Vegas is easier.
The second reason this is big is for a more personal reason. I was born in Las Vegas, and lived there until I was 10. My brother lives there now with his family, and I obviously spend a lot of time visiting (sometimes to the detriment of the 49ers!). I have never paid super close attention to hockey. I enjoy it live, but never became a Sharks fan in the Bay Area, or a Capitals fan here in DC. Now, I get what is effectively my first hometown professional team. Las Vegas has had several minor league teams, and UNLV basketball can be fun, but having a team in the big four professional sports is pretty cool. I won’t spend time here talking hockey, but as SB Nation eventually figures out a Las Vegas hockey blog, I’ll likely find myself spending some time there!