Knights’ successful inaugural season boosts Las Vegas branding

Forgive the Vegas Golden Knights and all of their Southern Nevada fans for wanting to ban Lisa Motley from T-Mobile Arena during the National Hockey League playoffs.

Motley, the director of sports marketing and special events for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and a big fan of the team, attended eight Golden Knights games in their historic inaugural season.

And in those games, the team went 1-7.

That means Motley was in the building seven of the only 10 times the team lost at home in a season that has united the Las Vegas community and made hockey fans across the county take notice.

Better yet, the Knights’ success and current Stanley Cup Playoff run has resulted in a marketing marriage with Las Vegas that has been far more successful than just about anyone could have imagined.

It will take time to determine a return on investment for affiliations made with pro sports and how much publicity was generated for Las Vegas on sports pages across the country. Currently, the LVCVA spends $4.8 million on sports marketing and some return on investment has been calculated.

For example, last month’s NASCAR race brought 93,000 people to the city with an estimated economic impact of $179 million. How much branding efforts with the Knights have helped the city has yet to be calculated.

‘Measured approach’

“You have to take a very measured approach and everybody wanted to be assured of the likelihood of success before doubling down on the strategy of embracing sports tourism,” said David Carter, executive director of the University of Southern California’s Marshall Sports Business Institute.

“It probably was wise to do that, because for a very long time, teams and leagues were cautious about going into Las Vegas,” he said.

Professional sports have been a staple for Las Vegas for decades with championship boxing matches, PGA golf tour events and the National Finals Rodeo consistently on the calendar.

But major-league team sports, specifically the National Hockey League, the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the National Football League, is a completely different animal.

Big-league teams kept their distance from Nevada, especially the NFL, which for years banned Las Vegas from advertising during football broadcasts, because there was always a lingering fear that sports gambling would somehow influence the outcome of games.

Evolving landscape

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court is on the verge of potentially striking down the law that makes most sports betting illegal. The NFL’s Oakland Raiders have committed to relocating to Las Vegas in 2020 and are building a 65,000-seat, $1.8 billion indoor football stadium that they’ll share with UNLV.

And, the Vegas Golden Knights will play their third Stanley Cup Playoff game Sunday, their first on the road, against the Los Angeles Kings.

Carter believes the seismic shift is about a societal change in the perception of gambling as well as Las Vegas evolving into a big-league city.

“Las Vegas stands for something much more extensive and expansive now than what it once did,” Carter said. “It is shedding that moniker of being simply all about gambling. Now, it’s all about entertainment and you can also participate in gambling. Now, it’s all about entertainment and you can consume sports. It’s not a repositioning. It’s an outgrowth of how Las Vegas has evolved as an entertainment mecca well beyond gambling in the last decade.”

People who have lived in Las Vegas a long time, like Rossi Ralenkotter, who has been with the LVCVA for 45 years and is its CEO, relentlessly stress the importance of branding Las Vegas as a destination. Ralenkotter has taken every opportunity to tell the story, whether through his multiple associations with national and international tourism organizations or with the award-winning “What happens here, stays here” advertising campaign.

New LVCVA mission

The LVCVA hired Motley in early 2017 from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway where she had her own front-row seat to how professional sports — in her case, NASCAR racing — could move the tourism needle. Her new challenge would be to find ways to blend the LVCVA mission of putting heads in beds with the arriving sports teams.

“We always had the big conventions in town and we had high occupancy on the weekends and we were trying to find sports events that could either go midweek or during times of the year that we needed assistance in hotel occupancy,” Motley said.

The LVCVA had a connection with sports with its association with minor-league baseball, serving for years as the landlord to the Las Vegas Stars at Cashman Field. Baseball helped give local executives a taste of what playing with the majors could do through sponsorships of “Big League Weekend,” Major League Baseball spring training games played at Cashman that featured the popular big-league players. Most games were broadcast to the respective home cities of the competing teams giving Las Vegas a platform to advertise the destination.

Nearly a decade ago, Las Vegas connected with the NHL, with the LVCVA guiding efforts to host the league’s awards presentations. The red-carpet treatment and the city’s pizzaz left an impression on the NHL that eventually led to the awarding of the Knights franchise to owner Bill Foley.

Other teams, events follow

It wasn’t long before other sports caught on. In a succession of announcements, NASCAR announced a second race series in Las Vegas in the fall, the Raiders officially announced their relocation, the United Soccer League, a minor-league operation, announced the formation of the Las Vegas Lights and MGM Resorts International, a staunch supporter of the LVCVA, relocated the WNBA San Antonio Stars to Las Vegas and renamed them the Aces. Play will begin in May at Mandalay Bay and head coach Bill Laimbeer, a former NBA star, made a brief presentation to LVCVA board members last week.

The NBA Summer League has flourished in Las Vegas and this year will include participation by every NBA team.

“We’ve always had professional sports here, we’ve just never had our own franchise,” Motley said. “The Knights, in my mind, really put the exclamation point that we’re the sports capital of the world, not only what they’ve done on the ice in this historic season but how they brought the community together. For the LVCVA, it’s great because they drive tourism, they bring in out-of-market teams, especially the Canadian and colder markets, because why not come to Vegas and watch a hockey game?”

That’s not the way it usually goes, according to Irving Rein, a professor of communications studies at the Northwestern University School of Communication and the author of “The Elusive Fan: Reinventing Sports in a Crowded Marketplace.”

“To some, there’s an expectation that a sports team is going to bring in a lot of people but that usually isn’t the case,” Rein said. “Las Vegas is an anomaly, mostly because it’s someplace people want to travel to for other reasons.”

Two things happened that changed the entire dynamic: the horrific Oct. 1 shooting incident and the Knights’ inexplicably great season.

“I was lecturing in my classrooms about what Las Vegas was doing with its advertising strategy after the shooting,” Rein said.

The Knights have played an integral role in helping the community recover with tributes to victims and first responders at games and playing an active role in the community.

‘Vegas’ in the box scores

Rein said the country took notice because they were seeing “Vegas” in the headlines and in box scores of newspapers and on ESPN broadcasts.

“I think we get so much more media attention nationally and internationally as a result of how well the team has done,” Motley said. “The great thing about having professional sports here is that you’ve got people watching from out of market on television. We’ve got people who come to Las Vegas for a hockey game and maybe a show or some fine dining. It just adds to the overall experience of Las Vegas and it becomes a bucket list destination to come visit for a sporting event.”

There are some down sides. At times, there are more hockey sweaters representing the visiting team at T-Mobile Arena than fans in Knights gear. That’s likely something the Raiders will be watching closely as they make their transition from Oakland to Las Vegas.

“Where the issues come is in secondary ticketing,” Carter said. “Sometimes even the most loyal hometown fans give up their tickets and you walk into a venue with the jersey of the other team. That’s just how the market works these days. These teams and leagues have minimal control of who ultimately is going to be sitting in those seats. The out-of-town tourism component for Las Vegas certainly is greater than in other markets, but it’s existing everywhere now because of secondary ticketing.”

Motley believes that as sports marketing and the branding of Las Vegas evolves, the arrival of the Raiders and the stadium will pay big dividends.

“The sky’s the limit,” she said. “That new stadium is absolutely a game-changer for us. We can start to entertain hosting the likes of a Super Bowl or an NFL draft and hopefully, eventually, an NCAA Final Four or at least a regional.”

And, with any luck, Lisa Motley won’t have to worry about the home team losing games if she shows up.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Golden Knights Videos
Golden Edge: Knights Rally To Win During Shootout
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen goes over the Golden Knights shootout win against the San Jose Sharks.
Golden Edge: Knights Win Third Preseason Game
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen go over the Knights 7-2 win over the L.A. Kings.
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Golden Edge: Vegas Fans Show their Love at Fan Fest
Bryan Salmond is on the red carpet at the downtown Las Vegas Events Center as the 2018-2019 Golden Knights show up for Fan Fest.
Golden Edge: Knights Back From Colorado
Golden Knights reporters Adam Hill and Ben Gotz talk about Knights preseason training camp and how Max Pacioretty is fitting in with the Knights.
Golden Edge: Mailbag — September 17, 2018
Ben Gotz answers questions submitted from Golden Knights fans.
Golden Edge: Knights Win First Preseason Game
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond, David Schoen, Ben Gotz and Adam hill recap the Golden Knights first preseason game win against the Arizona Coyotes.
Golden Edge: First Practice
Adam Hill and David Schoen discuss the first day of practice for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights Presser Max Pacioretty
Max Pacioretty speaks about his first impressions coming to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Golden Edge: Mailbag
Ben Gotz answers questions submitted from Golden Knights' fans about recent roster changes.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Rookies Faceoff Against The Sharks Good
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond breaks down the 5-4 loss the Golden Knights rookies had against the San Jose Sharks.
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects after a breakout season in Sweden. He slid to the fifth round in the 2017 draft after being projected to be selected much higher. “I wasn’t happy about being a fifth-rounder. But it was good for me, too, because I didn’t have so much pressure when I came here," Elvenes said. Elvenes posted five goals and 16 points in 28 games while playing in the top league in Sweden. The Knights signed Elvenes to a three-year, entry-level contract in June.
Golden Knights rookie camp - Day 2
The Golden Knights held their second day of rookie camp at City Arena in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Golden Edge: Deryk Engelland Rides With Kurt Busch
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond heads to city national arena and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to see Kurt Busch attempt to learn how to play hockey, and Deryk Engelland hop in a race car.
William Karlsson and the Golden Knights are headed to arbitration
Of all the salary arbitration cases in the NHL this summer, none is more compelling than the one involving William Karlsson and the Golden Knights. Karlsson is seeking $6.5 million annually in arbitration. The Knights countered with an offer of $3.5 million annually. Karlsson's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Saturday in Toronto. During the hearing, the player and team present evidence. The arbitrator then has 48 hours to render a decision, and the team decides on a one- or two-year contract. Karlsson’s agent and the Knights can continue to negotiate a new contract prior to the hearing.
William Karlsson and the Golden Knights are headed to arbitration
Of all the salary arbitration cases in the NHL this summer, none is more compelling than the one involving William Karlsson and the Golden Knights. Karlsson is seeking $6.5 million annually in arbitration. The Knights countered with an offer of $3.5 million annually. Karlsson's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Saturday in Toronto. During the hearing, the player and team present evidence. The arbitrator then has 48 hours to render a decision, and the team decides on a one- or two-year contract. Karlsson’s agent and the Knights can continue to negotiate a new contract prior to the hearing.
Golden Edge: Floor Hockey Clinic
Bryan Salmond travels to the Paradise Recreational Center for the Las Vegas Golden Knights floor hockey clinic with special guest Golden Knights defenseman and Mark Messier Leadership Award winner Deryk Engelland.
Golden Edge: Off Season Update
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and sports columnist Ed Graney go over the Knights free angency and signing Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury on his three-year extension: To stay in Vegas a long time was big
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said he's glad he'll be a part of the team for a long time. Fleury spoke about signing a three-year contract extension at a news conference at the City National Arena in Las Vegas on Friday.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, July 5
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Golden Edge: Free Agency Update
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Golden Knights beat writer David Schoen go over the latest free agency news from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Golden Edge: Knights Host Scrimmage
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Knights second day of scrimmage at City National Arena.
Golden Edge: Prospects Prepare For Scrimmage
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Knights getting ready to participate in a scrimmage for the next few days.
Golden Edge: Previous Prospects Fight For Spot
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over day two of the Golden Knights development camp.
Golden Edge: One-On-One With Reid Duke
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond interviews Golden Knights prospect Reid Duke.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Wednesday, June 27
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Development Camp
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Golden Knights development camp and how the prospects are looking to improve their game.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, June 26, 2018
David Perron, James Neal set to leave Golden Knights
David Perron, James Neal set to leave Golden Knights Perron and Neal were key contributors on the second line for the Knights, helping the expansion team to the Pacific Division and Western Conference championships. Perron’s agent, Allan Walsh, told the Review-Journal on Sunday that the Knights have not made a new contract offer since the season ended. Neal turned down a five-year, $25 million offer from the Knights at the trade deadline, according to the Calgary Sun.
Business
Lehman Brothers bet big on Las Vegas
Lehman Brothers collapsed 10 years ago, helping send the country into the Great Recession.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Ross & Snow launches in Las Vegas
Luxury shoe brand Ross & Snow has opened in Las Vegas, featuring "functional luxury" with premium shearling footwear. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remote Identification and Drones
DJI vice president of policy and public affairs discusses using remote identification on drones. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Drones and public safety in Nevada
Two representatives in the drone industry discuss UAV's impact on public safety. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Frontier Airlines to launch flights from Las Vegas to Mexico
Frontier, a Denver-based ultra-low-cost carrier, will become the first airline in more than a decade to offer international service to Canada and Mexico from Las Vegas when flights to Cancun and Los Cabos begin Dec. 15. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren addresses Oct. 1 lawsuits
MGM Resorts International Chairman and CEO Jim Murren addresses criticism his company has received for filing a lawsuit against the survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International opens the doors on MGM Springfield
Massachusetts’ first hotel-casino opens in downtown Springfield. The $960 million MGM Springfield has 252 rooms and 125,000-square-feet of casino. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
MGM Resorts International prepares to open MGM Springfield
Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International gave news media and invited guests a preview of the $960 million MGM Springfield casino in Massachusetts. The commonwealth's first resort casino will open Friday, Aug. 24. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A Walk Through Circus Circus
It only takes a short walk through Circus Circus to realize it attracts a demographic like no other casino on the Strip: families with young children. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Morphy Auctions, a vintage slot machines seller, wants gaming license
Vice president Don Grimmer talks about Morphy Auctions at the company's warehouse located at 4520 Arville Street in Las Vegas on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018. (Rick Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada's venture capital money doesn't stay in state
Zach Miles, associate vice president for economic development for UNLV, said there’s venture money in Southern Nevada, “but trying to find the right groups to tap into for that money is different.” According to a 2017 report from the Kauffman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked number 34 out of 40 metropolitan areas for growth entrepreneurship, a metric of how much startups grow. With a lack of growing startups in Las Vegas, investment money is being sent outside of state borders. The southwest region of the U.S. received $386 million in funding in the second quarter, with about $25.2 million in Nevada. The San Francisco area alone received about $5.6 billion. (source: CB Insights)
Neon wraps can light up the night for advertising
Vinyl wrap company 5150 Wraps talks about neon wraps, a new technology that the company believes can boost advertising at night. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Nevada on the forefront of drone safety
Dr. Chris Walach, senior director of Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems, talks to a reporter at NIAS's new Nevada Drone Center for Excellence of Public Safety, located inside the Switch Innevation Center in Las Vegas. K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal @KMCannonPhoto
Motel 8 on south Strip will become site of hotel-casino
Israeli hoteliers Asher Gabay and Benny Zerah bought Motel 8 on the south Strip for $7.4 million, records show. They plan to bulldoze the property and build a hotel-casino. Motel 8 was built in the 1960s and used to be one of several roadside inns on what's now the south Strip. But it looks out of place today, dwarfed by the towering Mandalay Bay right across the street.
Project billed as one of the world's largest marijuana dispensaries plans to open Nov. 1
Planet 13 co-CEO Larry Scheffler talks about what to expect from the new marijuana dispensary, Thursday, July 19, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Oasis Biotech opens in Las Vegas
Brock Leach, chief operating officer of Oasis Biotech, discusses the new plant factory at its grand opening on July 18. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
UNLV Tech Park innovation building breaks ground
Construction on the first innovation building at the UNLV Tech Park is underway. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars Forum Meeting Center
Caesars broke ground Monday on its $375 million Caesars Forum Meeting Center (convention center) just east of the High Roller observation wheel. (Caesars Entertainment)
Technology reshapes the pawn shop industry
Devin Battersby attaches a black-colored device to the back of her iPhone and snaps several of the inside and outside of a Louis Vuitton wallet. The device, installed with artificial intelligence capabilities, analyzes the images using a patented microscopic technology. Within a few minutes, Battersby receives an answer on her app. The designer item is authentic.
Recreational marijuana has been legal in Nevada for one year
Exhale Nevada CEO Pete Findley talks about the one year anniversary of the legalization of recreational marijuana in Nevada. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Young adults aren't saving for retirement
Financial advisors talk about saving trends among young adults. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like