86°F
weather icon Clear

NHL committee picks Las Vegas for expansion

Welcome to the big leagues, Las Vegas.

Three independent sources confirmed to the Review-Journal on Tuesday that the NHL’s executive committee has recommended the league expand to Las Vegas when the Board of Governors meets at Encore on June 22.

A two-thirds vote from the NHL’s 30 owners is required for approval. Next week’s vote is the final hurdle in the long process that began in late 2014 when billionaire businessman Bill Foley declared his interest in bringing a franchise to Las Vegas.

All sources spoke under the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to reveal the committee’s recommendation.

Foley told the Review-Journal in a text message that he couldn’t comment. NHL spokesman Frank Brown said the league had no comment.

Foley would pay a $500 million expansion fee for the NHL’s 31st team. The Las Vegas team would begin play in 2017-18 at T-Mobile Arena. More than 14,000 deposits have been put down on season tickets since Foley launched a sales drive in February 2015.

Las Vegas has been home to minor league teams (the Stars/51s in baseball and the Thunder and Wranglers in hockey) and several also-ran or fringe professional teams (Outlaws in the XFL, Posse in the CFL and the Sting, Gladiators and Outlaws in the Arena Football League). But gambling, a lack of suitable facilities and doubts about the region’s ability to support a major pro franchise have kept the city out of the big leagues.

Las Vegas has been a potential home for major league teams for years. It was in the running for baseball’s Expos, which moved from Montreal to Washington and became the Nationals. Rumors of the Sacramento Kings and the Milwaukee Bucks relocating here died as the city became leverage for new NBA arenas. Just a few years ago, rumblings that movie and TV producer Jerry Bruckheimer would bring an NHL team to Southern Nevada died on the vine.

However, the Las Vegas sports climate has changed drastically in recent years. The valley’s economy has rebounded from the Great Recession, and its population has grown past 2 million. Legal, regulated sports betting, which leagues once considered a threat to the integrity of athletic events, has been legitimized by sports officials such as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. The Oakland Raiders are considering relocation to Las Vegas if a 65,000-seat domed stadium is built near the Strip. And the NCAA has considered lifting its ban on championship events being staged in the city.

The construction of T-Mobile Arena, a state-of-the-art Strip facility designed to accommodate hockey and basketball, made the market all the more attractive to the NHL. Las Vegas already is bigger than five NHL markets.

While the news appears to be good for Las Vegas, the same can’t be said for Quebec City. That city also applied for an expansion team in July 2015 but has faced resistance from league owners, primarily because of the instability of the Canadian dollar. It appears the Quebec City bid will be put on hold.

If the owners vote to approve the committee’s recommendation, it will mark the league’s first expansion since 2000, when Columbus and Minnesota joined the league for $80 million apiece.

Foley is keeping silent, but local politicians were ecstatic about the news.

“We’ve grown up,” Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman said. “It’s an exciting step for us, but I’m waiting for the Board of Governors to approve it before I start to really celebrate.

“Hats off to Bill Foley for having the vision to pull it off and to do it the right way by putting the pieces together in the right order.”

Clark County Commission Chairman Steve Sisolak, who was the first to place a deposit on season tickets, said in a statement: “H-E double-hockey-sticks yes! I’m excited but I’m waiting for the official announcement from the NHL. Las Vegas has been waiting for this for decades. We’re a major league city. We deserve major league sports. I can’t wait to see that first championship parade down the Las Vegas Strip!”

The Las Vegas journey began in the fall of 2014 when the Maloof brothers, Joe and Gavin, met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman about purchasing an NHL team. The Maloofs had owned two NBA teams, the Sacramento Kings and the Houston Rockets, and they knew Bettman when the family owned the Rockets and he worked for the NBA.

Bettman had also spoken to Foley, and Bettman suggested to the Maloofs that they contact Foley about forming a partnership. The two parties met in December and agreed to work together. They formed a group of local businessmen and political leaders called the “Founding 50” to help drum up interest and also sell 100 season tickets each. That Founding 50 quickly grew to 75, then 90.

In February 2015 at the MGM Grand, with Bettman in attendance, Foley launched his season ticket drive for a team that did not exist to play in an arena that was still under construction.

More than 5,000 deposits were received that day, and the number grew over the coming months to its current 14,000. A few people canceled, but the vast majority stayed in. All of T-Mobile Arena’s 44 suites sold out.

On July 20, Foley put down a $2 million deposit and submitted his application to the NHL. He then went through a vetting process that covered everything from his education to his businesses to his lease. He appeared before the league’s executive committee Sept. 29 in New York and spent about an hour answering questions from the nine-member panel.

Foley was careful with his public comments to avoid antagonizing Bettman, whom he considered an ally, and preserve his good standing with the owners.

When the executive committee met June 7 in New York to decide whether or not to recommend expansion, Foley was not there. He said he remained optimistic that his quest would have a successful conclusion. He also said he has stayed in touch with Bettman through the process and had been kept abreast of any developments.

Meanwhile, season tickets continue to be sold on the proposed team’s website, vegaswantshockey.com. Foley and Las Vegas need a little more patience — a week’s worth — before they can celebrate a historic day for the city and the state.

Contact Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow on Twitter: @stevecarprj

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Golden Knights Videos
2019 NHL Awards Highlight Video
The 2019 NHL Awards took place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on Wednesday night. Though Vegas Golden Knights forward Mark Stone came close to winning the best defensive forward trophy, St. Louis Blues center Ryan O' Reilly took home the coveted Frank Selke Trophy. Jason Zucker, who was raised in Las Vegas and plays for the Minnesota Wild, accepted the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership and humanitarianism. Tampa Bay Lightning's Nikita Kucherov took home the NHL's MVP Award.
Golden Knights' Mark Stone up for Selke Trophy
Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone is a finalist for the Selke Trophy. The award goes to the best defensive forward in the NHL. Stone led the league in takeaways last season with 122. His competition is St. Louis Blues center Ryan O'Reilly... And Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron. Stone will find out if he wins Wednesday at the NHL Awards.
Vegas Golden Knights announce preseason schedule
The Golden Knights announced their preseason schedule Tuesday, as well as the date of their rookie camp and training camp.
Mark Stone and Stanley Cup visit MGM Grand
Mark Stone took photos and signed autographs for Golden Knights fans at the MGM Grand on Sunday. The Stanley Cup also made its way into the MGM Grand Main Lobby. The most revered trophy in hockey is on display to celebrate the upcoming 2019 NHL awards at the Mandalay Bay Center on June 19th. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights, Raiders Unite for Charity Softball Game - Video Highlights
Golden Knights and Raiders players alike were more than excited to join together in a charity softball game to raise money for pediatric cancer. Players from both teams cannot wait for the Raiders to arrive in Las Vegas so more joint events can take place.
Golden Knights and Raiders Raise over $100K in Charity Softball Game - Video Highlights
In the first-ever Battle For Vegas Charity Softball Game, the Golden Knights and Raiders raised $136,000 for the Tyler Robinson Foundation. At the end of the nights, it was the Raiders that raised the Battle For Vegas trophy, after beating the Golden Knights 20-16. Take a look at some of the highlights from the game!
Golden Knights' Reilly Smith Ready to Battle for Vegas - Video
Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith is ready to Battle For Vegas in a charity softball game that will feature various celebrity athletes, including teammates Jonathan Marchessault, Ryan Reaves and Erik Haula. Smith's team will face off against former Raider Marcus Allen and his teammates, including Vontaze Burfict, Josh Jacobs and Maurice Hurst. The charity softball game is set to take place on Saturday, June 15th at the Las Vegas Ballpark.
Golden Knights Will Have a New Home in Henderson - Video
The Golden Knights are saying goodbye to the Henderson Convention Center and hello to the team's new hockey facility that will be located in the second largest city in Nevada. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights and Henderson make deal on new facility - VIDEO
Henderson City Council unanimously approved a lease agreement with the Vegas Golden Knights to build and operate an indoor ice hockey facility in downtown Henderson, Tuesday evening. ( Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Kelly McCrimmon Gets Promoted to Golden Knight General Manager - Video
The Vegas Golden Knights have announced that Kelly McCrimmon has been promoted to General Manager of the team, effective September 1, 2019. Regarding his new role, McCrimmon will represent the Golden Knights at the NHL's General Managers Meetings and will be the point of contact for other league GMs.
Golden Knights Say an "Awful Call" Cost Them the Series - Video
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant and Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault believe that an "awful call" by the officials cost them game 7.
Golden Knights Fans Watch Game 7 at T-Mobile - VIDEO
Golden Knights went through a roller coaster in game 7 which lead to the Knights loss 5-4 in overtime.
Sharks & Golden Knights fans fired up for Game 7
Ahead of Game 7 in San Jose, Sharks and Golden Knights fans get hyped for the game in the fan zone at SAP Center.
Golden Knights prepare for Game 7 in San Jose - VIDEO
Vegas Golden Knigths players and the head coach talk about their mindset ahead of facing the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 on the road at the SAP Center.
Knights' Gallant Calls DeBoer a "clown" - VIDEO
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant calls Sharks coach Pete DeBoer a "clown" and says his comments are a little "unclassy" for him in response to being called the master chirper for the Knights.
Golden Knights fans father outside T-Mobile Arena waiting for game 6 against the Sharks
Golden Knights gather outside the T-Mobile Arena ready to watch game 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the San Jose Sharks.
Knights aim to close out Sharks series at home - VIDEO
The Vegas Golden Knights players and head coach Gerard Gallant spoke about what needs to be done ahead of Game 6 at the T-Mobile Arena to clinch the series. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant talks ahead of Game 6
The Golden Knights coach talked about his team’s upcoming game with the San Jose Sharks after Saturday’s practice.
Coach Gallant Speaks to media about game 5 against the Sharks - VIDEO
Golden Knight's coach Gerard Gallant speaks at City National Arena following thursday's game 5 against the San Jose Sharks.
Golden Knights Fans Watch Game 5 At Henderson Pavilion - Video
Golden Knights fans gather at the Henderson Pavilion to watch game 5 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the San Jose Sharks. (Nathan Asselin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fans prepare for Game 5 of the Golden Knights-Sharks series
Golden Knights and Sharks fans took part in pregame festivities at the SAP Center in San Jose ahead of Game 5 of the playoff series.
Golden Knights Fans Land in San Jose - VIDEO
Four Golden Knights fans who traveled from Las Vegas talk about the experiences they've had in San Jose with fans and the police ahead of Game 5 and give their predictions for the final score of the game.
Shea Theodore says he's trying to be a threat in all phases - VIDEO
Vegas Golden Knights Defenseman Shea Theodore says he's trying to elevate his game in all phases and his teammate Alex Tuch talks about Theodore's growth as a player.
Knights preparing to play a "desperate" Sharks team on the road
The Vegas Golden Knights could close out their first playoff series on the road against the San Jose Sharks when Game 5 takes place at the SAP Center. The team says they're going to have to play their best to defeat a "desperate" opponent.
Coach Gallant speaks after practice, as the Golden Knights prep for Game 5
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant speaks to media after the team's open skate.
Sharks Coach: I think our emotions got away from us a little bit
Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer and center Joe Pavelski say the team needs to hold their emotions in check going forward. Pavelski talks about the Ryan Reaves effect.
2019 NHL Awards set for Mandalay Bay Events Center on June 19
During the 2018 NHL Awards in Las Vegas, tribute was paid to first responders and survivors of the Oct. 1 shooting by a handful of Vegas Golden Knights. NHL Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer said that's why the league is moving the show to the site of the tragedy. The Mandalay Bay Events Center will host the ceremony on June 19th.
Ryan Reaves says Joe Thornton's Hit was "Gutless" - Video
Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves says Sharks' forward Joe Thornton's hit on Tomas Nosek was "gutless." Thornton has been suspended for one game (game four on Tues., April 16) as a result of the hit.
Ryan Reaves Finally Throws Down with San Jose's Evander Kane - Video
Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves says the fight between him and Sharks' forward Evander Kane was nine years in the making. Spectators finally saw the two battle it out in game three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Ryan Reaves Finally Throws Down with San Jose's Evander Kane - Video
Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves says the fight between him and Sharks' forward Evander Kane was nine years in the making. Spectators finally saw the two battle it out in game three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Golden Knights rookie team coach Rocky Thompson on Rookie Faceoff
Golden Knights rookie team coach Rocky Thompson discusses team's 7-6 win over Colorado in the Vegas Rookie Faceoff
Fleury's newborn son attends Game 3 - VIDEO
Marc-Andre Fleury's newborn son and his wife Veronique were in attendance at the T-Mobile Arena during game 3. Fleury talks about having his family there to support him.
Sharks and Knights players get physical during game 3 - VIDEO
Several fights broke out during game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Golden Knights and Sharks. Capping off the skirmishes was an intense showdown between Ryan Reaves and Evander Kane.
Golden Knights Fans Gather At T-mobile To Watch Game 3 Of The Playoffs - Video
Golden Knights fans gather outside of the T-Mobile arena to watch game three of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Knights GM says it was important for the team to sign Nikita Gusev
Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee says it was important for the team to sign Russian standout Nikita Gusev. The Knights announced they had signed the forward to a one-year, entry level contract on Sunday. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marc-André Fleury on flamingo
Marc-André Fleury on flamingo
Golden Knights Watch Party For Game 2 Of Sharks Series - Video
Golden Knights fans gather at Top Golf to watch the second game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the San Jose Sharks.
Gallant addresses the media after practice following a 5-2 loss
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant addresses the media after practice following a 5-2 loss to San Jose in Game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. (Ben Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on lineup
Golden Knights Fans Gather Downtown For First Round of Playoffs - Video
Golden Knights fans gather downtown to watch the first game of the playoff series against the San Jose Sharks.
Golden Edge Mailbag - April 10, 2019 - VIDEO
Golden Knights reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill answer your burning questions.
Gallant on losing to the Avalanche
Gerard Gallant talks about the loss to Colorado. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Colorado loss
Gerard Gallant talks about the loss to Colorado. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant on Paul Stastny
Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about Paul Stastny's role on the team. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on St. Louis goal
Gerard Gallant talks about St. Louis's third goal on March 25, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gerard Gallant on St. Louis Blues
Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant talks about the team's loss to St. Louis on March 25, 2019. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
 
NHL moves closer to expansion of video review policy

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman declined to discuss specifics, but the league’s Board of Governors approved proposals to change video reviews and during a meeting in Las Vegas at Encore.

Anaheim Ducks buy out contract of former league MVP Corey Perry

The Ducks announced the move Wednesday, with general manager Bob Murray calling it “one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in my 44 years in the NHL.”