Dec 21, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA; General view of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on Las Vegas Blvd. before the Las Vegas Bowl between the Fresno State Bulldogs and the Southern California Trojans. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Expansion: Seattle or Las Vegas?

According to a few reports, a future NHL expansion that would add a team in Las Vegas is apparently a “done deal.”

Despite NHL commissioner Gary Bettman previously denying any upcoming expansions, Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province reported that sources close to the situation learned that an NHL team that would call Las Vegas “home” is on the horizon.

It wasn’t very long ago that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was treating talk of expansion as though he was being asked if he’d like an epidemic of Ebola.

But recently the nature of the rhetoric has changed so much that the question is becoming not if, but when.

And then the ultimate question. Will they be able to limit the number of new teams to just two?

Sources close to the situation have indicated Las Vegas is a done deal, the only thing to be determined being which owner will be entitled to proclaim that he brought the first major league sports franchise to Sin City.

 Tony Gallagher, Vancouver Province

Gallagher questions if the NHL will limit itself to adding only two teams during expansion. Where would that second team be placed?

Previously, reports have stated that Seattle is close to getting an NHL team in the near future. There is also Sports Business News reporter Howard Bloom, who reported yesterday that by 2017, the NHL will have expansion teams in Las Vegas, Seattle, Quebec City and a second team in Toronto.

Of course, the NHL denied the reports of the possible expansion.

We have not decided to engage in a formal expansion process but we listen to expressions of interest. It’s not something we’ve seriously considered yet.

Gary Bettman

But does anyone in a position like this ever admit to anything when it comes out of someone else’s mouth or keyboard?

If reports of future NHL expansion are true, the two cities that I believe will get a team are Seattle and Las Vegas. Which city would be more successful having an NHL team?

The sports world has witnessed just how loyal the Seattle fan base is with the Seahawks and Sounders. The city has been attempting to lure a basketball team there and with plans for a new arena in place, Seattle should be successful in obtaining an NBA or NHL team down the road.

Las Vegas is an attractive option for obvious reasons. MGM/AEG arena, which will have a capacity of 20,000, has already started construction. Not only would there be hometown fans, but tourist numbers are always ridiculously high. People (36,351,469 of them in 2009 alone according to Forbes) travel to Vegas to spend, gain and lose money. Why not throw a few bucks toward an NHL game in the process?

But possibly the main reason why the NHL would be intrigued to put a team in the Sin City can be attributed to the same feeling Americans felt when Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

“We did it first.”

Is Bettman ready to stake the NHL flag in the heart of the Gambling Capital of the World? Would it actually work or is the heavy reliance on “tourist fans” too much of a gamble?

With any possible expansion city, there are pros and cons. But if the NHL is ready to breed teams in Seattle and Las Vegas, which city would have the best chance at succeeding?

Which city would an NHL expansion team most likely succeed in?

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