It’s been a long time counting down the clock, but in less than three weeks, the very first official NHL Vegas Golden Knights hockey game will play at T-Mobile Arena. On September 26, they play a preseason home game against the Los Angeles Kings. In one month on October 10, they will play their very first official “Home Opener” against the Arizona Coyotes. In sports book terms, that was once called a long shot or a prop bet because too many locals said it would never happen.
Three weeks and one day after that, The Professional Bull Riders (PBR) World Finals hits town, also at the T-Mobile Arena. November 1 – 5. Yes, the boys and the bulls will be back in town!! This will be their second year in the T-Mobile arena and their 23rd year in Las Vegas. The PBR World Finals have always been hosted in Las Vegas.
And contrary to popular belief, I am super excited to watch both events.
For all the Bulls*hit happening inside the casinos and the everything else in the ivory towers, it’s great to see that Las Vegas is getting their sporting game back on and heading in the right direction. It’s been adrift for a long time and some of us wondered if we would ever get it back. I guess that’s what happens when you cede control of your town over to the Wall Street greed mongers like James Murren. Losing that hometown pride has a price.
PBR and NASCAR I think were the last real sporting events to come to Las Vegas with the help of the casino owners who got together and said: “This would be good for Las Vegas, let’s do it” and they made it happen as a joint venture for the good of each other.
That’s the only reason they are still here while the other sports franchises are failing or falling off. They had to buy their way into the Vegas market and learn the hard way that Vegas is not your normal sporting event town. You now need a lot of white envelopes filled with dead presidents to pass around in order to get any cooperation from the powers that be.
Off My Soap Box (for now)
Seriously, it’s been an amazing journey to watch as someone finally stepped up to the window, cut the check and told the NHL “You will have a team in Las Vegas”. It’s sort of difficult to say no when the man cuts you a check for $500 million without breaking a sweat. So start cashing the checks because the money will be rolling in. As proof, remember when the team owner said that not having the team jerseys ready on the day of the official announcement cost him a couple of million in sales? Yup. Ouch.
Once the NHL made a home in Las Vegas, you knew the NFL was kicking themselves for letting their ego get in their way when they said “NO” to former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman. They got beat out of the market by a hockey team. Playing catch up won’t be too difficult, but it’s that pride thing that will sting for a few years.
The thing that secured my vote on the whole hockey in Las Vegas deal was when we were sitting in the media room at the NFR and just about every media guy from outside Nevada, including Canada, was asking me about tickets, flights, charters and such. Screw the local curmudgeons, just as I had said earlier, this was a tourist event handed down from the heavens.
Hockey fits into Las Vegas tourism much the same way as NASCAR does. Yes, it would be nice to see my home team play your home team in my town. But if I was being honest with myself, int he middle of winter, where do I want to see the Minnesota Wild play hockey? In Minnesota? Hell NO. I want to have an excuse to get out of the cold, get into the warmth and see some sunshine. So I would be planning a trip to Las Vegas right about now.
Professional Bull Riders World Finals. That was a natural fit for Vegas when it first started here. An offshoot from The National Finals Rodeo. An already successful event that put Vegas on the map for a lot of people who never thought about coming to Las Vegas, now wanted to come to Las Vegas. In a way, we went full circle as a town. Las Vegas started out as a western town and we returned to our roots with this type of an event.
The PBR World Finals are the warm up to the original event that helped create the PBR. The National Finals Rodeo (NFR) that happens December 7-16. For ten days, Las Vegas goes country!
Hockey, Bulls, and Cowboys. It’s going to a fun winter in Las Vegas!!
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