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: 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.
Golden Edge 2018 NHL Draft Recap
Bryan Salmond Recaps The Vegas Golden Knights 2018 Draft picks Rounds 2-7.
Golden Edge : NHL Draft Round 1
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the first round of the NHL Draft picks and the rumors surrounding the Knights recruiting Ilya Kovalchuk.
Golden Knights 2018 NHL Draft Preview
Golden Edge video host Bryan Salmond provides a preview heading into the 2018 NHL Draft and Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee discusses how the team has prepared for it.
Golden Knights Release Schedule For 2018-19 NHL Season
Golden Knights release schedule for 2018-19 NHL season. The Golden Knights will play five of their first six games on the road. The Knights are at Washington on Oct. 10 in a rematch of the Stanley Cup Final and face Pittsburgh the following night. The NHL previously announced the Knights open the season at home Oct. 4 against Philadelphia.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, June 21
Golden Edge: Knights Take Home Four Awards
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond recaps the NHL awards where the Golden Knights won in four of the categories.
George McPhee On Winning General Manager Of The Year
Golden Knights General Manager George Mcphee talks about winning General Manager of the Year and the Golden Knights.
Deryk Engelland On Winning Mark Messier Award
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland talks about winning the Mark Messier award how much impact a team can have on a community.
Gerard Gallant On Winning Jack Adams Award
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant talks about winning the Jack Adams award at the NHL Awards.
William Karlsson On Winning The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy
William Karlsson goes over the Golden Knights season and him winning the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.
Bark-Andre Furry meets Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog
Two of NHL's furriest fans met at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace on Tuesday, June 18, 2018, in Las Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights superfan Bark-Andre Furry and Washington Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog shared a plate of meatballs and spaghetti with help from Logan, "The Girl with the Hat." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, June 19
Golden Knights release 2018 preseason schedule
The Golden Knights will be back on the ice at T-Mobile Arena Sept. 16. The team’s 2018 NHL preseason schedule was announced Monday. Scheduled is a matchup with the L.A. Kings — Sept. 20 at Staples Center and Sept. 28 at T-Mobile. Two games against the Colorado Avalanche — Sept. 18 in Denver and Sept. 24 at T-Mobile. Two games against the San Jose Sharks — Sept. 22 at San Jose and Sept. 30 in Las Vegas. The team also announced it will hold its training camp at City National Arena beginning Sept. 13.
Golden Edge Look Ahead: What The Knights Next Season Will Look Like
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond, Review-Journals sports columnist Ed Graney and Adam Hill go over what to expect from the Golden Knights next season.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, June 14
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Stick Salute To Fans
The Vegas Golden Knights host a fan fest on Fremont Street to celebrate the teams achievements throughout the 2017-2018 season. Fans were treated to live entertainment, free Golden Knights merchandise and the players came out to see fans.
David Perron talks about becoming a free agent
Vegas Golden Knights winger David Perron talked to the news media a day after their season ended in the Stanley Cup Final. Perron said he wants to stay in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Knights' season ends, but accomplishments stand
Take a video tour through the Golden Knights' accomplishments in their inaugural season.
Golden Knights fans give advice to their team
Golden Knights fans give advice to the team as they head into Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final down 3-1 against the Washington Capitals. (Rochelle Richards/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Knights fans swarm T-Mobile Arena for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final
Vegas Golden Knights fans party at Toshiba Plaza outside T-Mobile Arena before Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Washington Capitals on May 30, 2018 in Las Vegas.
Crowd goes crazy moments before puck drop
The crowd at T-Mobile Arena goes crazy moments before the puck drops in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Vegas Golden Knights and the Washington Capitals, Monday, May 28, 2018 in Las Vegas. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights fans swarm T-Mobile Arena before Game 1
Golden Knights fans swarm T-Mobile Arena before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Washington Capitals, Monday, May 28, 2018 in Las Vegas. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ryan Reaves becomes Golden Knights' latest unlikely hero
Ryan Reaves has become the Golden Knights latest unlikely hero. Reaves scored the series-clinching goal in the Western Conference Finals. It was his first goal with the Golden Knights. It came after Reaves sat for Vegas' first nine playoff games. Now he's become a integral part of the team's forecheck. He gets his chance and he goes in there and he played great hockey. It’s not surprising.
Golden Knights’ Fleury tickles Wheeler’s ear during Game 3 scrum
Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury tickled Jets' Blake Wheeler during a scrum in Game 3. The scrum occured behind Vegas’ net with 2:34 left in the second period of the Golden Knights’ 4-2 victory over Winnipeg on Wednesday night Wheeler, whose helmet was off and had his back to the goalie, somehow seemed unfazed. The Golden Knights lead the Western Conference final series 2-1, and host Game 4 on Friday night.
Voices of Golden Knights players welcome visitors at McCarran airport
Four Golden Knights players will start delivering recorded messages this week as part of the “Voices of Vegas” program at McCarran International Airport.
Business
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)
President Trump’s tariffs could raise costs for real estate developers, analysts say
President Donald Trump made his fortune in real estate, but by slapping tariffs on imports from close allies, developers in Las Vegas and other cities could get hit hard.
Las Vegas business and tariffs
Barry Yost, co-owner of Precision Tube Laser, LLC, places a metal pipe into the TruLaser Tube 5000 laser cutting machine on Wednesday, June 20, 2018, in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Nevada Film Office Connects Businesses To Producers
The director of the Nevada Film Office discusses its revamped locations database and how it will affect local businesses. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Opendoor isn't the typical house flipping company
Unlike most house flippers, the company aims to make money from transaction costs rather than from selling homes for more than their purchase price.
The Venetian gondoliers sing Italian songs
Gondolier Marciano sings a the classic Italian song "Volare" as he leads guests through the canals of The Venetian in Las Vegas. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Building In Logandale
Texas homebuilder D.R. Horton bought 43 lots in rural Logandale. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Indoor farming in Southern Nevada
Experts discuss Nevada's indoor farming industry. (Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Fontainebleau could have become a Waldorf Astoria
Months after developer Steve Witkoff bought the Fontainebleau last summer, he unveiled plans to turn the mothballed hotel into a Marriott-managed resort called The Drew. But if Richard “Boz” Bosworth’s plans didn’t fall through, the north Las Vegas Strip tower could have become a Waldorf Astoria with several floors of timeshare units. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
LVCVA CEO Rossi Ralenkotter announces plans to retire
Rossi Ralenkotter, CEO of the LVCVA, on Tuesday confirmed a Las Vegas Review-Journal report that he is preparing to retire. Richard N. Velotta/ Las Vegas Review-Journal
Cousins Maine Lobster to open inside 2 Las Vegas Smith’s stores
Cousins Maine Lobster food truck company will open inside Las Vegas’ two newest Smith’s at Skye Canyon Park Drive and U.S. Highway 95, and at Warm Springs Road and Durango Drive. Cousins currently sells outside some Las Vegas Smith’s stores and at Fremont Street and Las Vegas Boulevard. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas home prices to continue to rise, expert says
Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, gives homebuyers a pulse on the Las Vegas housing market. (Eli Segall/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
NV Energy announces clean energy investment
The company is planning to add six solar projects in Nevada, along with the state's first major battery energy storage capacity. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
3 Mario Batali restaurants on Las Vegas Strip to close
Days after new sexual misconduct allegations were made against celebrity chef Mario Batali, his company announced Friday that it will close its three Las Vegas restaurants July 27. Employees of Carnevino Italian Steakhouse, B&B Ristorante and Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria, all located in The Venetian and Palazzo resorts, were informed of the decision Friday morning. Bastianich is scheduled to visit the restaurants Friday to speak to employees about the next two months of operation as well as how the company plans to help them transition to new positions.
Nevada has its first cybersecurity apprenticeship program
The Learning Center education company in Las Vegas has launched the first apprenticeship program for cybersecurity in Nevada. It was approved by the State Apprenticeship Council on May 15. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas union members voting to authorize the right to strike
Thousands of Las Vegas union members voting Tuesday morning to authorize the right to strike. A “yes” vote would give the union negotiating committee the power to call a strike anytime after June 1 at the resorts that fail to reach an agreement. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Small businesses struggle to find qualified candidates
A 2018 survey found that over two-thirds of small businesses in Nevada find it somewhat to very difficult to recruit qualified candidates. Bailey Schulz/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Nevada secretary of state website offers little protection against fraudulent business filings
Property developer Andy Pham tells how control of his business was easily seized by another person using the secretary of state website.
Caesars may be going solo in its marijuana policy
Several Southern Nevada casino companies aren’t following Caesars Entertainment’s lead on marijuana testing.
How much is the Lucky Dragon worth?
Less than a year-and-a-half after it opened, the Lucky Dragon was in bankruptcy.
Gyms and discount stores take over empty retail spaces
Grocery stores used to draw people to shopping centers. But many large retail spaces have been vacant since 2008. Discount stores like goodwill and gyms like EOS Fitness are filling those empty spaces, and helping to draw shoppers back in. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Funding source of Las Vegas stadium for the Raiders is sound, expert says
The stadium is funded in part by $750 million of room taxes, the biggest such tax subsidy ever for a professional sports stadium. Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and The Lincy Institute at UNLV, says that is a good use of public funds. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas needs light rail, expert says
Robert Lang, executive director of Brookings Mountain West and the Lincy Institute said he is afraid of a "congestion mobility crisis." Las Vegas needs a light rail system, he said, to accommodate the city's growing number of attractions. (Richard Velotta/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three takeaways from Wynn Resorts' Earnings Call
Matt Maddox came out swinging in his first earnings conference call as Wynn Resorts chief executive officer, boasting of record Las Vegas quarterly revenues and applicants lining up for work.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like