Golden Knights owner Bill Foley remains optimistic the 2020-21 NHL season will take place but does not expect fans to attend games at T-Mobile Arena.
Appearing Monday on Fox Business Network’s “The Claman Countdown” to speak about a recent business merger, Foley also told host Liz Claman he believes the season will start in late January or early February because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Well, I don’t believe when (T-Mobile Arena) opens we’ll have significant fans in the arena based upon the COVID spikes that are going on,” Foley said. “And it may not be that we — we may not start January 15th. It may slide a week or two. But we will be playing hockey, and we’ll be in — we’ll be in T-Mobile.
“But unfortunately, we may not have fans, which is really, really sad, especially for our team because we intend on winning the Stanley Cup this year.”
— Liz Claman (@LizClaman) December 7, 2020
The NHL and players’ association continue to discuss terms for the start of the season and reportedly were focused on a mid-January start after previously targeting Jan. 1.
The sides have discussed a 52- or 56-game schedule for the regular season with an abbreviated training camp. The New York Post reported Sunday that a 48-game season beginning Feb. 1 is a more likely scenario.
Commissioner Gary Bettman noted during the Sports Business Journal’s “Dealmakers in Sports” virtual conference Wednesday the need for a temporary realignment with the border between the U.S. and Canada closed to nonessential travel.
Foley’s comments seemed to indicate that teams would play in home arenas rather than hub cities or a bubble similar to what took place in Edmonton, Alberta, and Toronto during the playoffs.
While protocols for COVID-19 testing must be agreed upon, economics also continue to hamper progress for a return.
The owners requested players defer additional salary and increase the escrow limits to help make up for the projected loss of hockey-related revenue.
Players have balked at reworking the terms of the collective bargaining agreement that was ratified five months ago.