So, what will they call the new NHL team in Lost Wages? Something simple like The Lucky Sevens? Maybe something that remembers Bugsy Siegal, the mobster who built the Flamingo just after World War Two.
Whatever they call them, the Las Vegas hockey team should be a “can’t miss” for success. The population of the metropolitan area is a little over two million, and on any given day there are many thousands of visitors who are there to spend money, lose money, and party as though there’s no tomorrow.
Western Canadians in particular love to visit, and with the hockey team playing in the NHL’s Western Conference, there will be lots of games against the Jets, the Flames, the Oilers and the Canucks. There won’t even be a problem selling out the building when the Leafs come to town.
The man with the deep pockets is Bill Foley, a 71 year old veteran of the financial services sector. He must know that chances are excellent that he will recover his $500 million expansion fee before he turns 80? If not, perhaps the team will change hands in a poker game.
Commissioner Gary Bettman says Quebec City was not in the cards this time for a number of reasons, most notably the uncertain Canadian dollar. But more importantly, professional sports today is less and less about the love of the game, which is a large part of the story in Quebec, and other Canadian cities like Winnipeg.
What seems to be more important in the warm weather hockey venues are things like wagering in fantasy leagues, tailgating, and lots and lots of drinking. It should be quite a show when they lace up the blades next fall in the Nevada desert.
If hockey succeeds in Vegas, can NFL football and Major League Baseball be far behind? Maybe by then, Pete Rose will finally have made it into Cooperstown, and we’ll be allowed to bet on every batter who comes to the plate.
I’m Roger Currie
Photos of T-Mobile Arena by Bill Feldberg