Back from a week in Las Vegas and Valley really opens up the mind to a broader perspective when it comes to entertainment and sports in general. Having several conversations with locals about the now departed IHL, the current ECHL Hockey team and the NHL in general. The people of Las Vegas who are residents don't have a specific sport they follow in the dozens of thousands other then their University Basketball. Sure they love their NFL football and they love their NBA Basketball but don't write them off when it comes to NHL Hockey just yet. IN several southern cities I have visited over the years, their can be a distaste for hockey as minor league. Not the case with the majority of locals in Las Vegas and area.
Before you start saying, "C'mon, let's be real here, there is not the population or $ for hockey in Las Vegas!" think again! Las Vegas and Valley has a population of approx 2 million people. That is the population of residents not with tourism. Currently with the economy being the way it is in the last few years in the States Las Vegas is attracting approx 120,000 in visitors each day for tourism. That would mean on a daily basis, there is 2.12 million people who could consider the NHL game for entertainment.
There is also something important for NHL hockey to survive in any city and that is called Corporate Dollars and we know there is plenty of that in droves in Las Vegas. 70% of International Flights into Las Vegas are from Canada and we know that they experience about 1500 visitors from Canada daily via WestJet alone. The approx totals are 4700 Canadians are visiting Las Vegas daily. It is estimated that about 2,000 Las Vegas Residents are french Canadians who reside as residents and then there are those who have relocated and live in Las Vegas from other parts of Canada.
So doing some math here, let's say 25% of Canadian visitors would take in a NHL hockey game in Las Vegas and 25% of the local Residents who are Canadian would do the same. That would bring our total to...1175 Visitors to buy a ticket to a NHL game and 500 local French Canadians who are now residents of Las Vegas as well. Add in a guess of a additional 2,000 Canadians who reside in Las Vegas and you have a additional 500 people to purchase tickets to a NHL Hockey game. That would bring a total of 2,175 Tickets guaranteed to be sold every game at a very manageable number. Even if Las Vegas Residents were at .5% that would consider to buy tickets to go to a NHL game that would amount to a further 10,000 people. While you would have to be careful with ticket prices. entertainment value is what matters in Vegas, very few places have cheap tickets for anything. It's a place where people expect to be entertained and also expect to pay decent prices for that. In my estimate (I believe it is under estimating as well) that would mean the arena could sell easily close to 12,200 tickets per NHL game.
Enough with my numbers, let's look at some local news
out of Las Vegas on this very topic...
Frozen Fury 2012 Las Vegas at the MGM Grand (CANCELLED)
L.A. Kings vs. Colorado Avalanche
By Zeke Quezada, About.com Guide
The NHL lockout has cancelled this great event. You can blame the owners, you can blame the players but either way hockey fans will get no game in Las Vegas this year. Don't worry, they'll have the event next year and expect fans to fill the seats all over again. Apparently, the NHL believes that it is ok to have a work stoppage just as the game was gaining some serious momentum. Can you tell I'm a disgruntled fan? If every season ticket holder in every city would just stop paying the NHL might realize that the game really is about the people who fill the seats, buy the merchandise or travel to see their teams.
Tickets for this game will be refunded at the point of purchase. However, if you have a hotel reservation or flight booked I guess you have to go to Vegas! Luckily, for you this huge hockey fan is a big fan of Las Vegas as well.
The current seating capacity of the MGM Grand Arena is 16,800 but likely would be slightly smaller for hockey. It is possible the MGM Grand could be a temporary home for a NHL team until a new Sports Arena could be constructed. Wait! You have not heard? Here is another article and rendering of a possible new entertainment complex in the great city of Las Vegas...
Las Vegas could soon have an NHL-ready arena