It has been less than a year since the NHL announced it would be expanding to Las Vegas, and the new franchise already has a new neighbour.
On Monday, the NFL voted in favour of the Oakland Raiders relocating to Vegas, making them the second major league to have a team in the city.
Is the NHL worried about the Vegas Golden Knights’ new heavyweight competitor?
“No, there’s not widespread panic,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told SiriusXM NHL Network on Tuesday morning, adding that he’s received plenty of questions on the topic since the NFL’s announcement. “I think it’s safe to say it was apparent to the board at the time they voted the expansion franchise in, and it was apparent to [Golden Knights chairman and CEO] Bill Foley at that time as well, that the NFL being in Las Vegas was a real possibility. I think everybody kind of entered into the expansion process with their eyes wide open on that.”
The Golden Knights will still be the only show in town for the 2017-18 season—their debut campaign—and perhaps even two more years after that. Though a plan is in place, the Raiders are still without a stadium on the Strip, so it could still be three years before the Raiders actually settle in Vegas.
Daly acknowledged that while the NHL franchise will now have to share its fanbase with America’s game, the product is different enough that it’s not overly concerning.
“I do think that while fanbases overlap to a certain extent, I think the products of an eight-game NFL home schedule versus a 41-game home schedule in hockey make the products a little bit different,” he said.
“I think the Vegas Golden Knights are dedicated and committed to establishing kind of a long-term relationship with their fans, with their sponsors. They want to be a responsible member of the community. I think they’ve taken great strides in that direction already,” Daly explained. “I think both franchises can be successful and I’m certainly not concerned for the hockey franchise.”
Foley had a similar sentiment when he released a statement on Monday, welcoming the Raiders to Vegas.
“On behalf of the entire Vegas Golden Knights family, I would like to welcome and congratulate Mark Davis and the Oakland Raiders on their relocation to the great city of Las Vegas,” Foley said, via NHL.com. “It truly is an exciting time to be from Las Vegas. There is only a select group of cities in North America that are home to both an NHL and an NFL franchise and Vegas is now one of them. This alone should be a great source of pride for our community and our fans. Las Vegas has always been one of the most popular destination cities in the world and it is now emerging as a premier location for major league professional sports.”