Gaming, hospitality and entertainment company MGM Resorts International has confirmed that preliminary talks have been held over the possibility of bringing an NHL ice hockey team to Las Vegas.
The company is currently in the process of constructing a new $350m (€273.8m) sports arena and event centre behind its New York-New York Hotel and Casino facility on the Las Vegas Strip. AEG, the firm’s partner in the arena, also owns NHL franchise the Los Angeles Kings.
Speaking to the Las Vegas Review Journal newspaper shortly after MGM announced its third-quarter results, MGM Resorts International chief financial officer Dan D’Arrigo said preliminary discussions had taken place with a group interested in housing an NHL team in the new 20,000-seat MGM-AEG Arena.
The new arena will become MGM’s third such facility on the Strip alongside the MGM Grand Garden and the Mandalay Bay Events Center, both of which are regular hosts of various sporting events.
“We would be supportive of an NHL team coming to our arena,” D’Arrigo said. “We’re highly interested and we have been in discussions with a group.”
D’Arrigo’s comments come after NHL commissioner Gary Bettman last month reiterated his stance that the NHL will not seek expansion in the near future. Bettman denied recent reports that suggested the NHL would take on four further teams by 2017 in Quebec City, Seattle, Toronto and Las Vegas.
Although Bettman acknowledged that the current situation of 16 teams in the NHL’s Eastern Conference and 14 in the West leaves the topic open for discussion, he denied that any plans were in place to expand the league.
"What most people say to me is, well, there's 16 teams in the East, 14 in the West. What's wrong with you? Can't you count?" Bettman had said. "And I say, 'Yes, I can count, but I also can tell time and we finally have all 16 teams in the Eastern Time Zone in the right place.' But you don't expand just to fulfil somebody's notion of symmetry. It's a very important business decision to make, and you do it for the right reasons at the right time.
"I know people think I have this list tucked away in a vault with cities lined up. We don't. This is an important business decision if you're going to expand. In addition to being one involving a lot of money, it's a fundamentally important decision if you're going to do that."