NHL potential move to Las Vegas hampered by doubts and long-time shady happenings involving other major league teams.
Speculations about the National Hobby League (NHL) getting to Las Vegas ahead of National Basketball Association (NBA) are on, if things work out. It’s been almost 14 years that Las Vegas has been hoping to have a major league team, asides from just casinos and their glittering lights to lure players in on high stakes.
Bill Daly, NHL deputy commissioner, remains skeptical as to whether this will actually become a reality or not, as things didn’t quite work out with NBA. He sees the potential deal of having NBA or NHL as ‘just Vegas trying to suggest that this would be a good place for a professional sports franchise’.
NHL has given Bill Foley, the prospective owner, thumbs up to try out a ‘season-ticket drive’ to see if Las Vegas would like NHL to be there. But NHL isn’t quite sure of what lies behind the glitter and glamour of Las Vegas.
Nothing but speculations
For one, Las Vegas may mean getting in on online sportsbooks in the US for the NHL. However, Gary Bettman, the current NHL commissioner, says he’s not sure that this is the right stage or time to talk about that. David Stern, former NBA commissioner didn’t beat around the bush when he was considering taking NBA to Las Vegas. He clearly stated that there would be no online sports booking for the NBA.
• Las Vegas wants to get a sports team
• NHL may get to Las Vegas before NBA
• Past failures hinders progress
Bettman, after his meeting at Board of Governors, at the Boca Raton Resort, stated that “We haven’t fo-cused on it. But what I will tell you is that when you’re looking at the gambling issue, and you look at the book in Vegas, we’re about one per cent of the take”. He added later that “The board will probably have to be convinced”.
He thought that compared to NHL, football and basketball teams would be more likely to foster sports betting. He added that “If we get to that point, we’ll have to evaluate it, but it’s not something we’ve focused on”. Adam Silver, NBA’s current commissioner, has been more forthright, advocating legalization of sports betting.
NHL may get cold feet from predecessors’ tales
In the past, everyone thought NBA was going to Las Vegas. The New York Times quoted Joe Maloof as saying that “Sooner, rather than later, there’s going to be an NBA team in Las Vegas”. But today, NHL may just have a better chance than all four major sports leagues have had, of getting there.
Oscar Goodman, ex-Mayor of Las Vegas had admitted that he had had serious discussions to convince NHL to become the much-needed franchise years ago. However a series of unfortunate circumstances over a 14-year period wiped out any hopes of any of the four big leagues making it to Las Vegas.
Tim Donaghy, the crooked referee was arrested and charged for match-fixing under US gambling laws and it was rumored that he owed gambling money to the mafia. Then there was the case of the SuperSonics which moved to Oklahoma City in 2008 and was practically preyed upon by ‘oilmen who pretended they didn’t want to kill basketball in Seattle’. The New Jersey Nets was also crushed by a real estate deal gone sour involving a Russian billionaire.
More than just a cut of $450 million
What NBA was unable to do then, NHL kind of hopes to do now. Daly reflects that for the NHL “You don’t do expansion just to add clubs…there’s an expansion fee…there’s a diminution of your league share. Those are all factors that go into the mix.”
This means that there is more than just $450 million at stake if NHL moves there. An increase in franchise values would also be on the heels of NHL’s expansion too. However, Daly was quick to note that it may not be a good idea to assume that because the NHL is going to Las Vegas, it means that the land-based and online mobile casinos would support the professional sports franchise.
But NHL doesn’t only have Las Vegas to worry and dither about. Just as Bettman tried to convince himself that “Nobody should be focusing on the Panthers as a relocation candidate” so does Daly on NHL. He proclaimed that Florida and Arizona are not moving, and are in fact both stable franchises – “100 per cent”, he says.