Well, now it’s official.
The National Hockey League announced Wednesday that it will expand in 2017, becoming the first major professional sports league to bring a team to Las Vegas.
The league’s announcement brings a nearly two-year journey one step closer to reality for William Foley, the chairman of Fidelity National Financial and Black Knight Financial Services, who will lead the Las Vegas team as its owner.
The rumors of Foley’s NHL expansion push first surfaced in November 2014, when multiple outlets, including The Hockey News and Yahoo, reported that the NHL chose the ownership group that featured Foley and the Maloof family, who own several Las Vegas hotels and formerly owned the National Basketball Association’s Sacramento Kings.
Earlier this month, the NHL’s executive committee gave its approval to Foley’s bid, leaving only a vote from the NHL’s full board of governors to approve the expansion plans, which took place Wednesday.
After that vote, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced that Foley’s expansion efforts were approved and the Las Vegas team would begin play in 2017.
“This is a great day for the people of Las Vegas and it is extremely exciting to deliver the city’s first major league sports team,” Foley said. “This historic news would not have been possible without the overwhelming support of the Las Vegas community, our season ticket holders and public officials at the state and local levels.”
During the press conference officially announcing the expansion, Foley was asked about the team’s name, which is rumored to be the Las Vegas Black Knights.
Foley said that the team isn’t prepared to announce a name yet, but it certainly sounded like Black Knights is the leader in the clubhouse for the team’s name, especially given that Foley graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, which calls its sports teams the “Black Knights” as well.
“I love Black Knights,” Foley said when asked about the team’s name. “I’m an Army guy, but maybe that’s not the right name for this team at this time,” adding that there are some “alternatives” and other name options that will be be reviewed with the league before an official announcement is made.
Although the Black Knights are only the rumored team name, it seems like a likely choice, at least based on the team-run website VegasWantsHockey.com, which was established as part of the expansion effort.
The website serves as a fan-facing platform about the team’s development. The copyright listed on the website is “Hockey Vision Las Vegas,” but the team’s contact information is listed as “Black Knight Sports & Entertainment.”
The expansion efforts won’t be cheap for the Foley/Maloof group either, as Yahoo reports (citing the Associated Press) that the expansion fee for the new Las Vegas team is expected to be $500 million.
So, even though Foley hedged when asked if Black Knights will indeed be the team’s name, odds are that on opening night 2017, when Bill Foley takes his seat in the owner’s box at the brand new T-Mobile Area, he’ll be cheering on the Las Vegas Black Knights.
How’s that for branding?