Friday, June 08, 2007

In the town built on money, expansion may be on the desert horizon

What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Vegas, so if the NHL and Jerry Bruckheimer were holding in depth discussions about the future of the league in the fast growing southwestern city, nobody is spilling the beans.

That being said, reports are starting to come out that the producer of the CSI franchises amongst other Hollywood extravaganzas wants to turn his love of hockey into a business pursuit with Las Vegas his city of choice to be the home of a new NHL franchise, with Kansas City the apparent sister franchise for Vegas should the time come.

The interest from Bruckheimer has a few people whispering the E word again, something that nobody thought they would hear in the foreseeable future, with a number of teams reported to be chomping at the bit to test out more profitable waters, you would think that an established team with a young nucleus might be just what Bruckheimer would be looking for, but it would seem his plan is a five year plan, which gives the NHL the opportunity to put out to tender two franchise applications, bringing in some easy money in the ways of franchise fees.

With Jim Basile offering up over 2oo million dollars for the Nashville Predators the value of an NHL franchise has just shot up remarkably, a key reason why this time the NHL probably won't want to chase away their soon to be benefactor from Ontario.

With the 200 million dollar plus price tag the new gold standard for NHL clubs, the group of thirty owners can grab their scratch pads and cobble together a suitable price tag for the usual rag tag collection of the young, the lame and the nearly retired that stock your traditional expansion franchise.

The NHL has been licking its lips at the prospect of getting into the entertainment mecca for the USA, though the gambling issue may cause them a few second thoughts and the need for an arena is something that must be addressed. But if people of means like Balsillie and Bruckheimer are willing to invest their own millions into an NHL product that is having a hard time attracting interest in the US markets, then we suspect that Gary Bettman would be foolish (not to mention most likely to be unemployed) if he didn't at least investigate the potential himself.

For the league's owners dropping an established team in Southern Ontario could probe to be a pretty rewarding experience and allowing Bruckheimer the time to build up an expansion franchise for Las Vegas would give them a presence in a city that while not a hockey mecca surely has more than a few visitors with a passing interest in the game .

Bruckheimer wants to bring NHL to Vegas
Canadian Press

June 7, 2007

ANAHEIM, Calif. — NHL hockey in Vegas? Don't bet on it any time soon.

But if Hollywood mogul Jerry Bruckheimer has his way, it will happen one day.

Sources confirmed to The Canadian Press on Wednesday that the film and television producer has had informal talks with the NHL over the past few months about one day owning an expansion team in Las Vegas.

A source close to the talks said it's still "4-5 years away."

That goes along with what NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters last week during his annual news conference at the Stanley Cup final.

"At the present time we're not looking at expansion. At the present time we're not looking at relocation," Bettman said.

Still, the league has spoken with Bruckheimer, an avid hockey fan who was slated to attend Wednesday night's fifth game of the Cup final.

If the league does expand, it will likely be from 30 to 32 teams. Kansas City could be one option. A new arena is being built there and the city that has also lobbied the NHL for a team.

Bettman also told reporters last week that he was "intrigued" by a possible return to Winnipeg one day.

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