Las Vegas may soon have to change its nickname from Sin City to Sports City.
First, there was talk of a possible NFL rival bringing a team to the gambling mecca. The latest news in the wide world of sports is all about hockey, with rumors of an NHL expansion in the works that could bring a franchise to Las Vegas.
The NHL had, until recently, dismissed the notion of expansion. But league execs appear to be having a change of heart, with reports of "Pirates Of The Caribbean" producer Jerry Bruckheimer being interested in team ownership.
Bruckheimer, reportedly a close friend of AEG president and hockey fan Tim Leiweke, recently had informal discussions with the NHL about buying a Vegas expansion team.
With AEG managing the new 17,297-capacity Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo., for the next 25 years, Bruckheimer also approached the company about building and running a similar facility in Las Vegas, according to the Kansas City Star.
It doesn’t hurt that Leiweke is a member of the NHL Board of Governors’ expansion committee as top executive of the Los Angeles Kings.
And NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed the league has had discussions with Bruckheimer and others for the past six months, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Still, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman recently said the league wasn’t looking to expand or move franchises.
One hurdle Daly pointed out is that Vegas would need a new arena, which would be "a couple of years away, minimum." But Vegas is already getting started on the project.
Seven developer-led teams, including AEG, have issued letters of intent for the development and must turn in their proposals by June 28th to consultant Convention, Sports and Leisure International.
The company hopes to recommend a developer to the City Council by July 18th to build an 18,000- to 24,000-capacity facility capable of hosting an NHL or NBA team, according to the Review-Journal.
Kansas City is being looked at as another option for expansion. After failing to woo the Pittsburgh Penguins, there is still plenty of room for an NHL team at Sprint Center, which is set to open in October.
"Kansas City put itself on the map as an attractive, viable place for a future franchise, be it the NHL or NBA," Bettman told the Star in March. "I can’t speak for the NBA, but no doubt if we were considering a relocation or expansion …we would have to consider Kansas City."
The last time the NHL expanded was in 2000, adding the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild. Kansas City and Vegas would bring the NHL team total to 32.