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Alan Snel

NHL board accepts expansion application for Las Vegas football team

25 June 2015

The NHL Board of Governors on Wednesday gave the green light to accept an expansion application from prospective owner Bill Foley to start a potential NHL team in Las Vegas — and any other ownership group interested in starting an NHL franchise in the United States or Canada.

The league’s governing board heard a 10-minute report from Commissioner Gary Bettman on Foley’s season ticket deposit drive in Las Vegas, but no formal decision on Las Vegas was made by the team owners. The Board of Governors met at Bellagio before the NHL Awards event at MGM Grand Garden arena.

Foley has collected more than 13,000 season ticket commitments toward his goal of starting an NHL team that would play at the new $375 million arena under construction on the Strip. The arena, being built by the partnership of MGM Resorts International and Anschutz Entertainment Group behind New York-New York Hotel & Casino, is scheduled to open April 1. AEG also owns the NHL Los Angeles Kings and the Staples Center arena in downtown Los Angeles.

“Las Vegas has stepped up in a significant way,” Bettman said about two hours after the board meeting. He said the more than 13,000 season ticket deposits were based on groups of eight or fewer tickets.

Foley, a title insurance and winery business owner who moved from Jacksonville, Fla. to Las Vegas, said he was thrilled that he will get a chance to submit an expansion team application.

“It’s another step,” Foley said from his Montana vacation home. “If the application meets the test, we’ll be playing hockey in 2017.”

Foley is partnering with the Maloof brothers of Las Vegas, who are minority partners.

The Maloofs owned the NBA Sacramento Kings for 15 years before joining Foley on the Las Vegas hockey team initiative.

A Detroit Red Wings executive said after the board meeting that NHL teams were advised by the league to not comment on the Las Vegas team bid.

The NHL will make the applications available on July 6. The application submission deadline is Aug. 10.

Bettman, who came to Las Vegas in February when Foley launched the season ticket deposit drive, said the ticket campaign demonstrated “real legitimate support here. … He may want to continue with his pursuit.”

Bettman said the application should include information about an arena, ownership group, business plan and market viability. The NHL will scrutinize applications and vet proposed ownership groups.

“On the surface, there is a tremendous amount of interest here,” Bettman said.

Seattle and Quebec City have also expressed interest in an NHL team.

“This is not a race,” Bettman said. “This is not about someone getting a head start.”

At the earliest, Las Vegas would have a team for the 2017-18 season — if the NHL goes through its expansion process and absorbs Las Vegas into a league that has 30 teams.

The board’s action to accept expansion applications does not commit the NHL to growing.

“The fact that we’re going through this process doesn’t mean we’ll expand,” Bettman said.

Bettman said the expansion fee would be at least $500 million, but no official fee has been set.
NHL board accepts expansion application for Las Vegas football team is republished from