Bill Foley has done everything the NHL has asked in his pursuit of an NHL team for the city of Las Vegas, and has successfully progressed through numerous stages of the league’s expansion process.
But the NHL seems to be in no hurry to make Foley’s hockey dreams come true.
As Steven Carp reported recently, the league’s board of governors’ executive committee met on Monday to review expansion proposals (from both Las Vegas and Quebec City), but didn’t emerge with any firm recommendations for the board. Instead, commissioner Gary Bettman explained that the league is “going through a process” and that expansion is “a business decision [that’s] being treated in a businesslike fashion.”
The seemingly tepid response coming out of the meeting has to be frustrating for Foley. Last year at this time, the league surprisingly gave him the go-ahead to proceed with his expansion proposal. He was undoubtedly hoping for a similar significant development this time around.
Instead, the board still appears to be mulling whether it wants to expand at all, not merely figuring out how to best increase the number of squads in the 30-team league.
But, assuming the NHL wants to add at least one new franchise, you’d have to think that Vegas has the upper hand over Quebec City. The league currently has 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and just 14 out west. Adding a franchise in Quebec would require moving at least one Eastern Conference team to the west – something the owner of said franchise won’t be keen on. Adding a franchise in Vegas would move the league one step closer to geographical symmetry.
There’s also the potential of tapping into a new market. Let’s be honest, the NHL is already pretty big in Quebec City. They won’t be bringing many new fans to the game by resurrecting the Nordiques. But expanding in Vegas would mean that a whole new demographic is exposed to NHL action. While that didn’t work out so well in Atlanta, where the Thrashers lasted just 12 seasons, it has been fairly successful in other non-traditional hockey markets like Raleigh, Dallas, Miami, and Tampa.
(Photo credit: captcanuk (NHL Comissioner Gary Bettman on Flickr) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)
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