Vancouver hockey fans have been dreaming of Canucks road trips to Seattle recently, and they might be getting not only this additional local option but also one further south in Las Vegas.
According to Sport Business News’ Howard Bloom, the NHL will add Seattle, Las Vegas, Quebec City and a second team for Toronto. Another report by The Province’s Tony Gallagher provides insight on the decision to bring the NHL to Las Vegas.
The most intriguing part of Gallagher’s column was this:
Sources close to the situation have indicated Las Vegas is a done deal, the only thing to be determined being which owner will be entitled to proclaim that he brought the first major league sports franchise to Sin City.
A “done deal”. That is pretty strong language.
Unlike Seattle, Las Vegas has already broken ground on a new NHL-caliber rink. A new 20,000 seat arena is currently being constructed at the MGM in Las Vegas and is set to open in the spring of 2016.
Quebec City is also building a brand new NHL-ready arena of their own – a 18,000 seat facility to the tune of $400-million. The opening date for Quebecor Arena is slated for September 2015.
For Toronto, it is already home to the Maple Leafs, which play at the Air Canada Centre in downtown Toronto. Over the past decade, there has been discussions on the feasibility of a second team in the large Greater Toronto area market, particularly in the nearby suburb of Markham where there have been proposals to build a ice hockey arena capable of hosting the NHL.
Naturally, the NHL has quickly denied of any talks or plans to expand the league.
In a perfect world, I would like to see the NHL move struggling franchises in non-hockey markets rather than turn to expansion. But if Gary Bettman must expand, Seattle and Las Vegas are #1 and #2 on my list (from a Vancouverite’s perspective). From a pure hockey perspective, expansion is sure to dilute the product on the ice a little, although I believe the NHL is as well positioned as ever to add teams given the quality of play on the ice.