Las Vegas Lands First Professional Sports Franchise in City History

Posted on: June 23, 2016, 10:58h. 

Last updated on: June 23, 2016, 10:58h.

Las Vegas NHL professional sports
The NHL is coming to Las Vegas and bringing with it the first professional sports franchise to Sin City since the town was founded 111 years ago. (Image:

Las Vegas is no longer just a gambling and tourism destination after the National Hockey League (NHL) voted unanimously to approve a franchise in Sin City and give the market its first professional sports team in city history.

On June 22, the league’s current owners voted 30-0 on Bill Foley’s wishes to bring NHL hockey to Vegas. Foley’s win will cost him $500 million in expansion fees alone, but that isn’t keeping the businessman from celebrating, albeit in his own way.

The Fidelity National Financial Board Chairman and wine vintner told reporters from his Las Vegas Strip office, “I’ve worked so hard, and it’s been such a process, that it’s exciting but it’s anticlimactic. I hoped that Las Vegas would get half as far as it did in terms of embracing a major league sports team . . . And the reality is Las Vegas went all-in.”

The yet-to-be-named hockey organization will play at the recently constructed T-Mobile Arena behind the New York-New York Hotel Casino.

Long Time Coming

Las Vegas was founded in 1905, and 111 years later one of the Big Four professional leagues is finally ready to allow a team to locate to the desert. Ironically, it comes by way of ice hockey.

The NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL have made no secret over the decades that they’re opposed to a Las Vegas franchise due to the region’s legalized sports betting market. Credit daily fantasy sport (DFS) or perhaps just a changing of the times, but the mindset among the Big Four’s leadership has drastically changed in recent months.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is the most outspoken proponent of sports betting on his league’s games. In May, Silver told ESPN that there’s an “underground betting market in the United States” that he wants to regulate.

But it’s not basketball that’s altering history in Sin City, but hockey.

“The name of Bill’s website was,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Starting today, Vegas has hockey, NHL hockey.”

Vegas Targeted

After 111 years of pro sports prohibition, the odds seem to be turning in Vegas’ favor. The NHL expanding its league to 31 teams is expected to be only the beginning of professional sports teams moving to Las Vegas.

It’s no secret that Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson is actively working with Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis to relocate the NFL team to Las Vegas, and recent comments from MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has added additional enthusiasm.

“There are casinos all over the place,” Manfred said on the YES Network this week. “I see Las Vegas as a viable alternative . . . I would not disqualify it just because of the gambling issue.”

The sun has certainly set in a different direction on Vegas between 2015 and 2016 when it comes to pro sports. After more than a century without the Big Four, no city seems better positioned to land an expansion or relocation franchise than Sin City.