Those NHL-to-Vegas rumors are heating up again.
The chief financial officer for MGM Resorts International said on Thursday that the company has held “preliminary” discussions with a group looking to bring a team to Sin City.
“We would be supportive of an NHL team coming to our arena,” Dan D’Arrigo told the Las Vegas Review Journal. “We’re highly interested and we have been in discussions with a group.”
The casino operator is in the process of building a $350 million arena behind the New York-New York Hotel & Casino on the Strip with AEG, the company that owns the Kings. The multi-purpose venue will have 20,000 seats, along with luxury boxes, making it ideal for an NHL club. It is expected to open in 2016.
A tenant that would lock down 40-plus dates each year in the new building would naturally be of interest to MGM and AEG, but that doesn't necessarily mean that anything is going to happen.
It’s one thing to talk to a group that is interested in owning a franchise. It’s something else to sit across the table from the people who control those franchises. D’Arrigo said nothing about talks with the NHL itself, so it seems safe to say that, at this point, discussions are strictly in the exploratory phase—especially since Gary Bettman continues to insist that expansion is not imminent.
“We're going to continue to listen to expressions of interest, and that’s gratifying that we’re getting them, but we’re not ready to go through a formal expansion project,” Bettman said earlier this month.
Of course, D’Arrigo didn't specifically state that the group was interested in an expansion team. Despite loud statements of dedication to their communities, owners in both Florida and Arizona have relocation options in their back pocket if support in those areas doesn’t pick up soon.
For now then, this latest round of Vegas talk is just more smoke ... but you know what they say about that.