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Bettman: NHL would start looking ‘more closely at Las Vegas’ if league expands

Jun 23, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

Las Vegas Getty Images

The NHL Awards take place tomorrow in Las Vegas, so it’s no surprise that the topic of expansion to Sin City is being brought up, especially after ground was broken on the construction of a new 20,000-seat arena just last month.

According to commissioner Gary Bettman, however, the NHL isn’t looking to expand “right now.”

“I know Las Vegas is an important city,” Bettman told the Review-Journal. “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.”

Bettman added that “having a building doesn’t assure you of a team, though not having a building assures you that you won’t have a team.” (See: Seattle.)

We wrote in December about the potential for the NHL to expand to Vegas. Back in 2009, Bettman said that “some league will be there” eventually, but not until there was a suitable arena.


Expanding to Las Vegas and Seattle would also bring the Western Conference up to 16 teams, the same as the current Eastern Conference, while allowing clubs like Detroit and Columbus to remain in the East.

That, of course, ignores Quebec City’s candidacy to rejoin the NHL. Which is why the situation in Florida is worth keeping an eye on.

Related: No expansion plans yet, but Bettman discusses Quebec City, Las Vegas, Seattle

  1. chill1184 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:02 PM

    Seattle and Quebec City make a lot more sense but thats just me

    • patthehockeyfan - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:48 PM

      No, it’s not just you. You’re thinking with a clear mind, unlike Buttman – who, I swear, just wants to work on his tan.

      One semi-failed experiment in the desert isn’t enough?

      • endusersolutions2013 - Jun 23, 2014 at 6:17 PM

        Seattle, yes – by far the biggest NON-Southern US metro area. Quebec has the fan base, but unfortunately they are in the wrong part of the country. They would be the logical choice for re-locating another EC team.

        The league needs to expand by 2 to once again have balanced # of team in each nconference/division.

        Las Vegas is marginal population-wise and has no tradition of winter sports.

        The logical cities are therefore Seattle and Portland (there are no remaining cities west of Ontario with enough population to make sense). Think of the cross-city attendance with those two and Vancouver.

        Then the NHL stops expanding.

  2. nj666 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    Thats dumb, the nhl can barely hold one team in the desert now they’re shooting for another?

    • nullzero00 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:12 PM

      The Phoenix arena is in a terrible spot. At least in Vegas, the arena is within walking distance to the strip, and you have the allure of all that Vegas has to offer as well. Why not take a trip to Vegas to watch your team on the road, then hit the tables afterwards?

      • nj666 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        Most of the people on the strip are tourists and people working the casinos. Considering I can watch my team on the road in 3 different arenas within 90 miles doesn’t help. The gambling aspect isn’t as attractive aspect either.

      • moarjam - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:35 PM

        Ha. Gambling isn’t an attractive aspect to anyone going there? Its a trillion dollar industry what are you smoking?

      • nj666 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:51 PM

        a trillion dollars made off of idiot degenerate gamblers. I’d rather not give my money away to a casino, especially after a plane ride, tickets to a hockey game, over priced concessions, and various other over inflated crap. But hey thats just ol’ common sense talking .

      • stixzidinia - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:18 PM

        What’s so alluring about Vegas? I grew up 3 hours from there and have been there many times. It gets old after 2 days tops. See a show, drink a bunch, and drop some cash on the tables or slots……then you’re itching to get the hell out of there.

        Although I must say Vegas is an interesting place to drop acid or eat some mushrooms. Done that a couple of times when the Dead used to play the Sam Boyd Silverbowl every year.

      • patthehockeyfan - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:26 PM

        stixzidinia – Check back in in a couple of years and let us know what it’s like to drop acid and watch an NHL game.

        Ooooooohhhh! WOW! That puck is sailing! And, it’s leaving a tail behind it! Far out!!!

        P.S. Jerry Garcia was one cool dude.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Jun 23, 2014 at 6:26 PM

      Phoenix metro has over twice the population and yet can’t support a team. For the last 5 years, they’ve been 29th or 30th in attendance, down significantly for 6 years ago.

      Nashville metro has 40% of the zise of Phoenix, yet averaged approx 3,000 more fans nightly.

      Folks gotta learn sometime.

  3. hockeyflow33 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    Anyone who has done no research can tell you that team will fail there.

  4. nunan - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:15 PM

    Vegas is such a ridiculous thought. It’s a tourist attraction. They might fill an arena because of Vegas’ popularity but the fans would all be people from out of town, right? How could a franchise with no solid fan base be successful? You have to have local fans who are invested in the team’s success. Seattle makes sense, for sure. They have pro teams there already which at least proves it has potential. And Vancouver is not too far away so the concept of a hockey team shouldn’t be that foreign. Quebec is the opposite of Las Vegas. They maybe have less in terms of population, compared to Vegas, but the quality of those fans would be SO much higher than the tourists in Vegas. Vegas is more of a spot for the all star game and the award ceremonies. Leave it at that. Don’t waste a franchise there. Would be doing it for all the wrong reasons. If Quebec ever happens, moving the Panthers makes more sense to me. Replace a city with no fan base to one with a rabid, dedicated one. Florida represents what Vegas would be because, again, Florida is driven by tourism. Quality over quantity.

    • stixzidinia - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:25 PM

      Vegas isn’t so popular these days. What was once a boomtown has completely turned sour. They aren’t drawing anywhere near the dollars to sustain what it has become. The local economy is in absolute shambles as is the housing market. Vegas got greedy. They way overdeveloped, both on the strip and in the outlying communities. They should have left it as it was back when the major hotels consisted of Luxor, MGM, Treasure Island, Caesars, Bally’s, and Mirage. That was a sustainable and profitable economy. Now the strip is just way over the top with way too many major hotel casinos and all the old school Ratpack spots that had character are gone. Vegas sucks now.

      • nflnhlrulznbasux - Jun 24, 2014 at 8:42 PM

        ….yeah, it was never the same since they started to allow those long control arms instead of hand spinning each reel and using flashing light bulbs instead of lit candles on the old slot machines when they paid off.

  5. howintensive - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    A Vegas team will be interesting because of the lack of home fans, but an abundance of road fans. Does the NHL want that?

  6. bullwinkle88 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    I’m wondering why they are building an area in the first place. There is no guaranteed client for the building, so why are they doing it?

    BTW Portland would be a better NHL city than Seattle.

  7. clayman61 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    I agree, bring a team to Portland!

  8. pfhockey - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:24 PM


    • bullwinkle88 - Jun 23, 2014 at 5:24 PM

      They have more hockey fans there. Seattle blacks out the NBC hockey games. What kind of fans could they ever bring?

      Plus they seem to be more interested in basketball. Hockey is just a sideshow to them.

  9. avfanforlife - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    Portland and Seattle – Even the conferences… done.

    • bostonfrogs - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:38 PM

      Exactly. Wish you were the commish…

    • bullwinkle88 - Jun 23, 2014 at 5:26 PM

      Seattle won’t go for hockey until they have an NBA franchise. And who knows how long that will take? Besides, hockey should never play second fiddle to basketball IMO.

      • kaptaanamerica - Jun 23, 2014 at 9:03 PM

        you are right. hockey should never be second fiddle to basketball. way more hockey fans in north america than basketball.

        if only canada and usa would form an border free economic union, then the NHL would be able to sell the total CAN/USA ratings to advertisers instead of US or CAN only depending on the country.

  10. cotts1 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:32 PM

    Need to relocate a few teams before they expand….

  11. bostonfrogs - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:35 PM

    I love hockey, but…doesn’t the league have enough financial difficulties without watering down the product even further through expansion? There’s enough struggling clubs as it is–move one to Las Vegas if you think it’s going to be such a hotbed for hockey fans.

    Of course, this is coming from Bettman, the same guy who gave us games on the Versus channel…so what could possibly go wrong?

    • storminator16 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      Sure, let’s ignore the financial state of the league before ’93 and continue with the “Bettman is the anti-Christ” scenario.

      • bostonfrogs - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:03 PM

        The NBA was almost in financial ruins before David Stern, but yeah–go ahead and use pre-1993 as an excuse for the state of the league today.

      • storminator16 - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        And are you complaining about the NBA, too? They make money, no? I’m only asking because you brought the NBA up. Kudos to both. If Silverman puts roundball on the moon and folks pay good money, maybe Carmelo Anthony signs there. All about the $.

      • bostonfrogs - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:39 PM

        No–I’m saying that past history is not an excuse for current mismanagement.

        I’m no fan of Stern, but he transformed the NBA into a huge money-maker. Hockey fans know that our game is an exponentially better product than basketball, but it remains a niche sport in mainstream America, and leadership/marketing is a big reason why.

      • storminator16 - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:47 PM

        Current mismanagement? I’m not sure how one can say the NHL is mismanaged. There are situations out there that will work themselves out eventually. All sports go through market shifts and/or failures. No. Big. Deal. Enjoy the game.

    • storminator16 - Jun 23, 2014 at 2:47 PM

      In other words: if Bettman can determine people would pay to watch a hockey game on the moon, you all should be freaking thankful.

    • stixzidinia - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      Hate to break it to ya, but the NHL has never been more profitable or more popular as it is now. Record ratings, record profits (nearly 4 billion), and record merch sales. It’s fashionable to bash Bettman, but there’s no sensible argument that he hasn’t been great for the league. He hasn’t been perfect, but he’s done wonders for the viability of the NHL. And don’t forget the reality that he can’t do anything without his bosses, the owners, giving him the go ahead.

      • bullwinkle88 - Jun 23, 2014 at 5:28 PM

        Those of us who remember the Clarence Campbell days say “Amen” to that.

      • kaptaanamerica - Jun 23, 2014 at 9:06 PM

        Bettman has been great for the owners and proved to the world that hockey fans are a solid breed. will come back regardless of work stoppage unlike the MLB which suffered for ages after their work stoppage.

    • stixzidinia - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:31 PM

      Hate to break it to ya, but the NHL has never been more profitable or more popular as it is now. Record ratings, record profits (nearly 4 billion), and record merch sales. It’s fashionable to bash Bettman, but there’s no sensible argument that he hasn’t been great for the league. He hasn’t been perfect, but he’s done wonders for the viability of the NHL.

      • frankiesweep - Jun 25, 2014 at 6:22 PM

        You are 1000% correct.

  12. rsmaggiemae - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:11 PM

    What a dumb idea once again from Bettman
    We dont need hockey in warm climate states…/.
    they are failing … look how much Fla has to borrow about 80 mil this year just to be able to pay the players
    Phoenix is not doing well at all, and the reason the Calif clubs do well, is due to the population that can support the teams, otherwise if those clubs were in other warm climate states they would not last long
    Put one back in Quebec. or a cold climate state in the winter
    Just another huge fax paux

    • moarjam - Jun 23, 2014 at 4:08 PM

      I hear its pretty warm in Tampa. They sell out every night.

      • greatmiamisportsmind - Jun 23, 2014 at 5:40 PM

        I can confirm that.

    • greatmiamisportsmind - Jun 23, 2014 at 5:52 PM

      Here is another typical person who wants to hate to Panthers not based on facts, but rather on ones own misinterpretation of facts.

      No, the Panthers didn’t need to borrow $80 million to meet payroll. Kinda hard considering their payroll was $50.6 million, a far cry from $80 million that they didn’t borrow.

      The $80 million your thinking of, is the amount the Panthers have left on their loan for BB&T Center, which the county owns. Let’s be honest, if every team could renegotiate their current loans to get a cheaper deal, every team would. The Panthers basis for a renegotiation on the loan is based on the fact the Panthers have put every cent on any repair/remodeling of the county owned building, until last year when Broward County paid for a $4.2 scoreboard.

    • skr213 - Jun 23, 2014 at 5:57 PM

      This wasn’t an “idea” from him. He was simply asked about it and said “yeah, we’d take a look.” Not sure how everyone has turned this into Bettman saying he wants a team in LV.

      • kaptaanamerica - Jun 23, 2014 at 9:09 PM

        people are ignorant buffoons in general, most people in N. America don’t have a reputable degree (an Arts degree doesn’t count btw) or other recognized post-secondary education from a reputable institution. i’d venture the bettman haters fall disproportionately into that group.

  13. tmoore4075 - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    Oh for ****s sake. Come on man. Coyotes can’t make it but putting an NHL team in a non-sports town. It’s a tourist destination. Seattle, Portland, Quebec, heck even Kansas City should be well ahead of there. Seattle has the problem of they need an NBA team for that arena to be built, at least currently that’s the deal. The rest have or will have NHL-ready arenas real soon.

  14. stixzidinia - Jun 23, 2014 at 3:15 PM

    Bettman is just giving a PR answer. There will never be a major pro sports team in Vegas.

    Personally, i’d like to see Kansas City get a team if there’s expansion. They already built a state of the art arena in hopes of luring a team. It’s already built and ready to go. Would be nice to see those taxpayers get something in return for having spent the dollars.

    • bullwinkle88 - Jun 23, 2014 at 5:30 PM

      It has already failed there once. Going to Kansas City would be a repeat of the Atlanta disaster.

  15. gbart22 - Jun 23, 2014 at 4:22 PM

    should be Portland Seattle or even maybe Utah if they were going to expand not Vegas.

  16. isphet71 - Jun 23, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    Seattle + X seems to be the formula. I’m not a big fan of Vegas being X though. Just my humble opinion.

    Vegas is such a transient city; there aren’t a lot of local lifers that live there. Lots of blue collar, hard working types, which is good for an NHL fanbase, but the fact that most of them are pretty temporary means Vegas just won’t make it as an NHL city in spite of all the money that flows through there.

  17. El Pollo Loco - Jun 23, 2014 at 6:11 PM

    Las Vegas just lost their ECHL team the Wranglers.The Orleans without any reason given refused ton renew their lease with the team and a proposed and stupid idea to build a rink on top of the Plaza hotel downtown fell through.Las Vegas is a great event town but not a city that will sustain interest in a team.Unlv basketball attendance sharply declined this season because they weren’t very good.Vegas isn’t a patient town plus the nhl doesn’t have the big household names like the nba or nfl does.

  18. tougie24 - Jun 23, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    A team in Vegas is Dany Heatley’s wet dream.


  19. sanjose61 - Jun 23, 2014 at 10:43 PM


    How about expanding the ice surface to reward more skillful players?

    Twenty-four of the NHL’s current arenas were built between 1993 and 2003.

    The NHL neanderthals and traditionalists lacked the vision to transform the game and grow the sport. Apparently they’re satisfied with keeping hockey a niche sport… while everything in the world gets bigger and faster (including the players) the NHL rink looks more and more like a pee wee rink.

    Thus hockey will continue to consist of “getting the puck to the net,” “creating traffic in front of the goaltender,” “creating screens and deflections,” “cycling down low,” and increasing the number of concussions while the rest of the hockey-playing world laugh at the NHL troglodytes.

    Such a sad state of affairs for a once-great sport.

    • nflnhlrulznbasux - Jun 24, 2014 at 9:04 PM

      If we enlarge the ice, hockey will consist of “less hitting” “play away from the net and the goaltender,” “create less intensity” “reduce the emotional aspect that separates hockey from the other sports and the NBWWE” which will increase the number of empty seats, lose TV viewership, all in the appeasement to the non hockey PC magniloquent dicks such as yourself, who have no concept of the history, flow, character, vibrancy and dynamics of the NHL and North America’s game…….Go watch your KHL and Spengler Cup and F off!

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