VOORHEES, N.J. — When the NHL announced Las Vegas as its choice for expansion in 2017, there were some concerns as to how a sports franchise would survive in the Sin City. Despite the cash cow that is the four major sports leagues, none of them has ever built a pro team in Las Vegas.
About five months since the decision became official, there are still questions around the move. The general consensus around the Flyers’ locker room can be summed up with one word: interesting.
On the surface, every player appreciates the league’s expanding.
“The more teams, the more jobs for guys,” Dale Weise said. “I think it’s a positive. A place like that will be exciting. … I think [expansion] is good for the league.”
That’s how the players see the overall concept, but how about the selection of Las Vegas over, say, Quebec?
“It’s an interesting location,” Steve Mason said. “Not a typical hockey market. Hopefully they can find a fan base there. Obviously, it’s known for tourism so there will be a lot of visiting fans coming in but from a player’s perspective, you hope that there’s an actual home fan base there.”
That seems to be the major concern around Las Vegas, where 42 million outsiders visited the city in 2015, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. Everything in the city is a spectacle and almost all of the sights and sounds of The Strip draw a crowd.
The expansion team is bound to bring in people; the question is, though, will they be actual Las Vegas hockey fans?
“It might be tough to get up for a game if no one is there,” Matt Read said.
If a group of Flyers fans are out West for the weekend and notice the Flyers are in town, they’ll more than likely take in a game. Considering how booming the city’s tourism is, there’s a chance more visiting fans make up the day-to-day attendance.
That being said, the number of season tickets purchased exceeded 15,000 within one week of the announcement. How those tickets are used remains to be seen.
As for the city itself, some players see it as a distraction. Every city has its entertainment and nightlife scene. Vegas just happens to be more over the top than anywhere else.