The National Hockey League announced on Wednesday that it has granted an expansion franchise to Las Vegas.
The franchise, which will begin play in 2017-18, was approved in a unanimous vote by the League’s Board of Governors during a meeting today in Las Vegas.
Ownership of the Las Vegas franchise will principally reside with Bill Foley. The franchise will play its home games in the T-Mobile Arena, which has a hockey capacity of 17,368.
The 14,000-plus fans who committed to season tickets will now have the chance to be there when the puck drugs to see the first major league sports team in Nevada. The NHL said that success made people pay attention to Las Vegas as a viable expansion option.
Meanwhile, Foley will be busy getting the team ready for play next year, including a possible practice facility in Summerlin.
The Las Vegas franchise will pay a $500-million expansion fee. That fee then will be distributed in equal shares to each of the NHL’s 30 presently existing clubs.
“In the fall of 2017, when we celebrate the 100th birthday of the NHL, we will do so as a League of 31 teams,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We are pleased to welcome Bill Foley and the city of Las Vegas to the League and are truly excited that an NHL franchise will be the first major professional sports team in this vibrant, growing, global destination city.”
The Las Vegas franchise will be given the same odds in the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery as the team finishing with the third-fewest points during the 2016-17 regular season.
The Las Vegas franchise’s First Round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft will be determined in accordance with the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery and, as a result, the Las Vegas franchise will be guaranteed no lower than the sixth overall selection.
The Las Vegas franchise then will select third in each subsequent round of the 2017 NHL Draft (subject to trades and other potential player transactions).
Mayor Carolyn Goodman spoke about the team, saying she hopes the excitement continues through next year's season opener.
"Las Vegas is a name that is known for entertainment, and known for good times," says Goodman. "This is a dream come true."
Goodman says there are three ingredients that make a great city: health care, culture and sports teams. She says the NHL coming to Las Vegas has been the missing ingredient.
"Families will come here for a hockey game and see that they can stay for the food and the shows," says Goodman. "They're going to love it."
Mayor Goodman also said she hopes this opens doors for more professional sports teams in Las Vegas.