Render of proposed Las Vegas arena (MGM Resorts International)
Bill Foley and the Vegas ownership group upped the ante in their bid for an NHL expansion franchise by taking out a local TV ad during the Super Bowl.
How serious are Bill Foley and company about landing an NHL Las Vegas franchise? Super Bowl commercial serious.
During Sunday night's wild Super Bowl, which featured everything from miracle catches to dancing sharks, the Foley-led ownership group aired the following ad on local television:
It's pretty straightforward: appeal to prospective fans' emotions with a quick bombardment of cheering crowds and hockey clips, then encourage them to participate in the upcoming Vegas team ticket drive.
Do the production values look stolen from Rock 'Em Sock 'Em II? Indeed, but it still takes moxie and cash to advertise during the Super Bowl. And doing so erases any lingering doubts about Foley's commitment to an expansion franchise.
The ad sends us to the website VegasWantsHockey.com. There, we learn season ticket deposits start Feb. 10. Signing up for more information nets you an email signed by Foley, thanking you for your interest and ensuring that more updates will follow.
The NHL has permitted Foley to gauge interest via the drive, which will put to the test the idea that the Vegas core's personality as a "guest" city doesn't lend well to fans hunkering down with season-long hockey commitments. As The Globe and Mail quoted NHL commisssioner Gary Bettman in December:
“Mr. Foley, who is investing a considerable amount of time and effort in expressing his interest, wants to have a good idea as to whether or not it’s a good idea. We’re interested to know the results, as well ... if he just wants people to sign a piece of paper and say I’m interested, I’m not sure that’s the same as somebody taking a deposit.”
Good on the NHL. There's nothing to lose by seeing if Foley and the Vegas ownership group can put their money where their mouths are. They need 10,000 deposits in the $150-$900 range by March.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin