Tuesday April 21st, 2015

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says he is pleased with the progress of the ticket drive in Las Vegas as the league moves closer to expanding.

Bettman was in Winnipeg for the Western Conference first-round playoff series between the Jets and Anaheim Ducks and gave a progress update on the Las Vegas project.

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Prospective NHL Las Vegas owner William Foley launched a ticket campaign in February to determine whether the city would be a viable place to house a franchise and says that the drive could reach the 11,000 buyer mark.

“I know there’s been a lot of speculation about it. What I’m hearing is the season-ticket drive has gone, and is going, extraordinarily well,” Bettman said, according to ESPN.com. "When we get to the board meeting in June, I will report to the board as to where things stand, based on the expressions of interest, and we'll figure out then what, if anything, we want to do."

Bettman said there is no timetable for a Las Vegas franchise.

The NHL’s Board of Governors is set to meet in Las Vegas on June 24, coinciding with the league’s awards show in the city.

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A 17,500 seat, $375 million facility is currently under construction on the Las Vegas Strip with the hopes to open the arena in April 2016.

Foley has said he wants the team to start playing by the 2016-17 season.

There has not been an expansion in the NHL since the league added the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild for the 2000 season, which put the league at 30 teams.

"What they're doing in Las Vegas to gauge interest is to ask people to commit and give a deposit on a franchise that doesn't exist," Bettman said. "In terms of introducing a team to a market, whether it's an introduction or reintroduction, I don't know how anybody could have done it better than the Winnipeg Jets did here."

- Scooby Axson

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