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Very shortly after the Pittsburgh Penguins brought home the Stanley Cup for the fourth time, the NHL did something they haven’t done in 16 years, they announced an expansion team. This new team brings the NHL to 31 teams in total. But while expanding is a big deal, the story here is where they decided to expand to. The NHL is the first-ever professional sports organization to put a team in Las Vegas.
Being from Las Vegas, this is an exciting move as Las Vegas has never had a professional team, and the local college, UNLV, has only really ever been good at basketball. Las Vegas has become a bit of a hot spot for professional sports teams recently. Last year, the president of the Milwaukee Bucks, Peter Feigin, threatened to walk if he didn’t get a new stadium built in Milwaukee. The other locations he was eying? He mentioned Seattle, which makes sense since they had a team until it was relocated to Oklahoma City and renamed the Thunder in 2008. The other place was Las Vegas.
This may seem odd, but Las Vegas is really a basketball town with it being the only college sport that’s consistently good. The NBA Summer League plays games there along with several college basketball conference championships.
While Las Vegas locals, like myself, got excited, deep down we knew it would never happen. If we got a team before Seattle the Northwest would burn. That’s not even to mention the concerns about putting a professional sports team in Las Vegas, such as the competition with the casinos and gambling. Las Vegas locals found hope again when Raiders owner Mark Davis started making serious visits to Las Vegas about moving the Raiders from Oakland, Calif. to Las Vegas.
Now at last the people of Las Vegas have a professional team to cheer for! People are concerned that the economy of Las Vegas won’t be able to sustain a hockey team, but Las Vegas doesn’t need tourists to attend games. There are several cities within the Las Vegas Valley including: Las Vegas, Henderson, Summerin, and North Las Vegas. Between all the different cities there’s a population of over 2 million people. They can sustain their own professional team.
The more important question on hand is what will the team be named? The semi-pro hockey team there is named the Wranglers, so not that one. The local college is the Rebels, which is based off the South breaking off during the Civil War. That name doesn’t even make sense for the university. So what is there for this new team? What’s a Las Vegas name? Well, the first one that jumps to mind is the Las Vegas Gamblers, of course, that would never fly, because it would bring up too much controversy.
Las Vegas was originally settled by Mormon pioneers, however, I think holding a team name in Sin City based off a religious movement doesn’t add up. How about the Las Vegas Lights? The city is known for its lights and there are other team names in the NHL like the Flames, Stars and Wild. Not liking lights? Ok, let’s go Las Vegas Roadrunners. The UNLV basketball team’s nickname is the “Runnin’ Rebels,” keep the running theme alive, maybe? Last idea, Las Vegas Rattlesnakes. Everyone in Las Vegas knows not to mess with rattlesnakes.
Regardless of the name of the team, the fact is, Las Vegas has one. The door is wide open! Come on in Raiders, come on in NBA, we’re ready! Las Vegas is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States and as someone who was born and raised there, I’m beyond excited to see my passion, professional team sports, finally come into the city.
My name is Adam Cichoski, I’m a junior at UVU studying Journalism. Sports is my passion, especially football. I’m originally from Las Vegas, Nevada. My plan after school is to pursue a job in sports journalism.