The efforts to land an NHL franchise in Las Vegas took a major step forward when the league invited organizers to advance to the second phase of its three-phased bidding process. The Las Vegas group joins Quebec City as the two groups moving onto the next step of consideration.
The Las Vegas group previously announced it had secured more than 13,200 season-ticket deposits for a potential team. In addition, there’s already a multipurpose arena under construction near the famous Las Vegas strip that is on schedule to open as early as next spring.
Like all NHL strategies, the timeline for any expansion is still a little fuzzy, although the league has indicated that it won’t be until 2017 at the earliest. Still to be determined, of course, is the expansion fee. Commissioner Gary Bettman has proposed a fee of $500 million to join the smallest and most challenged of the North American major league sports (and, no, that’s not counting soccer – sorry). The NHL’s last expansion was in 2000 when the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets made the league an even thirty teams, and their franchise fees was a relatively modest $80 million.
Sixteen cities entered the NHL expansion fray earlier this summer. Throughout the three-phased process, the NHL Board of Governors approves bids. With applications requiring a $10 million fee, with $2 million nonrefundable, it’s a way for the NHL to capture some additional revenue. The big payout comes with the franchise fee, which, in this case, could result in a $1 billion windfall to the NHL.
The downside, of course, is further dilution of a somewhat fringe sport. The previous two eras of expansion resulted in a dilution of play, despite coinciding with the fall of the Iron Curtain. With dilution comes underperforming franchises, and one just has to look a little bit away from Las Vegas to see the poster child of dysfunctional hockey planning, the Arizona Coyotes.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
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