We Canadians understand that hockey should be in a place where people want the sport. Winnipeg, Hamilton, Quebec City ... anyone listening? However, when it comes to expansion teams this isn't the case; Bettman is still searching for his American audience and this just may be the place to find it.
LAS VEGAS; over 40 million tourists visit every year. It's one of the fastest growing city's in the United States, and many people visit to attend shows they usually wouldn't attend. An NHL game perhaps!? Plus the population is approximately 1.8 million and is adding an estimated 7,000 residents a month.
Las Vegas is maturing, and Nevada's low insurance rates and zero income tax is attractive. According to Forbes, it's #157 best places to live in the USA. The city has attracted family's, and invested much money towards improvements deamed towards good living.
Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL, are an affiliate of the Calgary Flames NHL hockey team. By minor league standards in Sin City, the Wranglers are a boffo smash. The hockey team has consistently been in the top five in attendance [in the ECHL], averaging 4,500+ per game.
"It's certainly exceeding what we expected,” Davenport says. “It's not a mistake that we have been in or near first place all season.”
"We're No. 5 in attendance, which is pretty amazing to me since we don't give away tickets or fudge attendance," Davenport said. "You don't just show up here at 7 o'clock on Friday and think you're going to sit at the glass. There's a premium for seats."
Give it a shot, Las Vegas is already in bold on the map, it could only help the NHL on putting it in the spotlight for US fans. Struggling franchises, and the NHL, should take a serious look at this. There would be incredible business support, season tickets would sell. If the NHL wants to open a new and huge market, with an exciting team who can put on a show, just take that next step. Las vegas is not just for gambling.