NHL Expansion Team Coming to Vegas; Process Isn’t Finished
It’s all but done. Las Vegas has been selected to be an expansion team in the NHL come the 2017-2018 season. Talks have been going on for a while, with other cities also being considered. However, those other cities have been passed on and here we land in the City of Sin.
So how does this work? Well for those who remember the expansion draft with the Blue Jackets and Wild, it is looking like it will be pretty similar — with a few quirks I’m sure. I think what a lot of fans are left wondering is will a hockey team work in Las Vegas? Will this affect my team? And how do they go about just forming a new team anyway?
Well, let’s get this straight right out of the gate. Organizers in Las Vegas have to get together the $500 million fee to get the license to have the team in Las Vegas to begin with. Now, I make that seem like it’s is a hurdle — it’s not. The NHL hasn’t agreed to do this without a thorough vetting of the city to make sure it had enough following and support. This support comes from local businesses and residents to make this work.
The NHL hasn’t expanded since 2000 when Minnesota and Columbus paid $80 million each to join the league. Prospective Vegas owner, Bill Foley, is a wealthy businessman who isn’t likely to blink at the elevated price tag previously proposed by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman as an expansion fee.
How The Expansion Process Works
The expansion team must select players that have a total value of between 60 and 100 percent of the 2016-17 salary cap and it cannot buy out any player it selects in the expansion draft until after the 2017-18 season. The 2016-17 cap is expected to be between $70 million and $72 million depending on projected revenues.
Each of the 30 teams will lose a maximum of one player. Teams can protect one goaltender, three defenseman and seven forwards as previously announced by the league. There is also the option allowing teams to protect eight skaters and one goaltender.
Good Business for Vegas
NHL is smart to position themselves as the first major league to make Las Vegas a viable home. Las Vegas gets a bad rep in terms of being just a gambling city. Las Vegas has many growing and established business and corporations.
The Las Vegas area had nearly 2.2 million people in the 2010 census, making it the largest population center in the U.S. without a major pro sports franchise. The Las Vegas bidding group already suggest they have well over 13 thousand season tickets deposits ready to go.
Beating the NFL to Las Vegas is huge. NFL will not be looking to expand anytime soon. A well-run NHL franchise could lay down the blueprint for an NFL team relocating to Las Vegas.
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