Finally, the powers that be saw the $500 million bright light and granted Las Vegas a National Hockey League franchise. The new, unnamed team, will start to play in the 2017/2018 season and will play their home games at the brand new T-Mobile Arena behind New York-New York.
As usual, the naysayers are out in force. Las Vegas has had a lot of failures in minor league teams locating here and many see this as another team to add to the “Been there, failed there” pile. However, those people forget that there is a huge difference between Major League Sports and minor league sports teams and leagues in Las Vegas. I have always felt that most professional leagues had read Las Vegas wrong when they were scouting locations or trying to start a new league here. Las Vegas is a different market and most minor league teams can’t compete with the other entertainment choices tourists and locals have here.
So here are my 5 reasons I think NHL Hockey will succeed in Las Vegas
#5 The Vegas Experience.
People come to Las Vegas for the Experience we offer. When you have an event in Las Vegas, it always has to be one or two notches above what other places would do the exact same event. We are known for that and people expect that. Forty million people are coming here each year from all over the world. Many are looking to do or try something they can not get back in their own home region. Professional Hockey and the experience of betting on a live event, is one of those unique experiences.
Ever since the 2009 economic crash, Las Vegas has added a ton of new entertainment options and opportunities for the Vegas Tourist. You aren’t coming here just because there is hockey. You are coming here for a variety of other reasons, it’s just now you get to add seeing a professional hockey game to your list of things to do the next time you come ot Las Vegas.
#4 Vegas Knows How to Market
Ever since the earliest days of gambling, Las Vegas has found a way to promote its self and its attractions. From newsreels featuring famous celebrities doing something Vegas’ to show wraps on the sides of 737 jet aircraft’s to telemarketers trying to create a packaged pitch to get you to see their newest timeshare promotion. Vegas markets like no one else.
For several years, Las Vegas had a semi-pro hockey team here called the Las Vegas Wranglers. Their wacky promotions would pack the house not because you loved hockey, but because you just had to see what all the noise was about. You realized you had so much fun, you feel in love with the team and went back for more fun.
Here is a really simple example. Let’s take a Minnesota Wilds fan. They buy the jersey of their favorite player. That’s good. That jersey will be seen all around that fans town, place of work and school. Probably it will be seen only in the area surrounding Minnesota. But a Las Vegas team’s merchandise will be bought and seen by tourists all over the world. Cheap international marketing for the team and the sport. They will make millions of dollars just on the Vegas team merchandise.
#3 Sports fans bring non-sports fans to Las Vegas
On Super Bowl Sunday, there will be more people in Las Vegas for the big game, than there are people in the host city. We get 300,000 people here for a NASCAR race. Half are here to see the race, the other half are here to party with their friends who brought them here. It’s Vegas. You want to be here and if that means coming out with your best friend who happens to be a hockey fan when you are not, oh well, you come any ways to have fun and cheer them on.
#2 Natural Rivalries
NHL Hockey surrounds us: Anaheim Ducks. San Jose Sharks. Arizona Coyotes. Los Angeles Kings. All great cities filled with Vegas fans who also happen to be rabid hockey fans as well. Now they have another reason to visit us. And bring their non hockey friends with them. Las Vegas is an easy drive into town, cheap flights as well, plus plenty of other attractions to keep them in town a day or two longer.
I have yet to even mention the locals who would support the team. It’s because a game like hockey that offers 40 home games can attract a large tourist fan base on its own. Not needing the usual heavy local fan base to survive. Plus we have a lot of entertainment and hospitality companies like the casinos needing new ideas to keep their best gamblers happy and returning. Hockey offers that better than NFL football or soccer.
Now you add to it the annual migration of the retirees from Canada, the Midwest, and upper northeast states, people wanting to escape their frigid cold. These are people coming from hockey country who live here only during the winter months before returning back home. They happen to be here when major league hockey is being played here as well.
They get to escape the cold winters while still being able to enjoy seeing their “home” team play the Las Vegas team. No jumper cables required!
The only downside to this for them is all the relatives who said they won’t visit them because they hate Vegas because they don’t gamble. Now they really do have a reason to come and visit you during the winter months… Its Hockey in Las Vegas!
Unlike most other professional sports teams in other towns, the Las Vegas hockey team is owned by only two people/families. The team will play in an arena already paid for and generating income to pay its bills. The people who own the team are very successful and have a lot of combined experience marketing a Las Vegas product as well as a sports team to the world.
About the only way they can screw this up is if the NHL wants to micro-manage the team or force the always popular, failed business model “This is how it works in Chicago, so we know it will work the same in Las Vegas”
Do You Think NHL Hockey will succeed in Las Vegas??