If Las Vegas wants its hockey team, they’re going to need to buy-in beginning today.
Tuesday marks the start of the Las Vegas season ticket drive, one that has prospective owner Bill Foley’s sights set on selling 10,000 season seats to prove to the NHL that Las Vegas is a viable market for hockey and that, come 2016-17, there should be a team in Nevada.
The goal of 10,000 seats may seem lofty, but consider that in 2011, commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL gave True North Sports and Entertainment, the group that purchased the Atlanta Thrashers with intent on moving them to Winnipeg, a season ticket drive goal of 13,000 seats. The goal was met within the hour, although many believe it was much sooner as the ticket sales website crashed almost immediately after launch.
There are few that believe Las Vegas’ drive will be met with the same response, but the goal isn’t to sell them all within the day – the goal is simply just to sell them.
Professional poker star Daniel Negreanu is a member of the “Founding 75,” which is a group of Las Vegas locals working in support of the drive. Negreanu told the Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno that he had already purchased his four tickets and had already sold, “plenty of others.”
Much like the drive run by True North Sports and Entertainment, Las Vegas’ potential franchise is offering season ticket holders a wide-range of options. Deposits can range from $150 to $900 with a commitment of up to 10 years. Winnipeg’s drive locked fans in to either three- or five-year commitments. If the ticket drive fails or Las Vegas isn’t awarded a team, the 10 percent deposits will be refunded to those that bought in.
Negreanu told Whyno that he imagines the season ticket drive could eclipse the 12,000-seat mark by the time it’s over. However unlikely that may seem, the faith the Toronto, Ont., native has in Las Vegas as a hockey market is infectious.
Maybe hockey will work in Nevada. Maybe it won’t. But now comes Las Vegas’ shot at making it a reality and only time – and ticket sales – will tell if hockey comes to Nevada in 2016-17.