Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 06/23/14 at 06:02 AM ET
When the NHL comes to Las Vegas for its annual awards show, Gary Bettman always fields the, "When are you going to expand to Las Vegas?" question.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal's Steve Carp at least asks the question while coining it in realistic terms, pointing out that some 15 years after the mayor of Las Vegas attempted to lobby Bettman to expand to Nevada, the region sustained massive losses in the most recent recession, and as of yet, there's "no barn" (though Carp reports that the Anschutz Entertainment Group's about to break ground on a facility on "the Strip" shortly):
“Fifteen years is a long time,” Bettman said. “We’ve been through a recession and economic difficulty. But things are changing, and we’re aware of that. Right now, we’re not looking to expand. I know Las Vegas is an important city. Whether or not it’s a city for the NHL to put a team in is still to be determined. We have not done any investigating as to whether or not the city could support the NHL or looked at potential ownership groups. If the owners were to approve expansion, we would certainly begin looking more closely at Las Vegas and other potential markets.”
The NHL last expanded in 2000 with franchises in Columbus, Ohio, and St. Paul, Minn., to get to its current 30-team alignment. Expansion fees then were $80 million per team. It probably will take someone with far deeper pockets to join the NHL if expansion were to take place in the next few years.
When [Mayor Oscar] Goodman visited Bettman in 1999, the population of Clark County was 1,321,317, and Las Vegas was outside the top 50 media markets in the U.S. In 2013, there were 2,062,253 residents, and Las Vegas was the No. 40 media market.
And while the city slowly has rebounded from the recession and the population almost has doubled since 1999, there are still questions as to whether there’s a sufficient fan base to support the NHL.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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