NHL not worried by slow Las Vegas ticket drive

NHL hockey commissioner Gary Bettman, right, and deputy commissioner Bill Daly pause before starting a news conference, Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014, after attending an NHL owners meeting in Boca Raton Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The Las Vegas NHL season ticket drive has slowed considerably. But does that mean hockey in Sin City is doomed? Not according to a story by Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

The drive started at a brisk pace with 5,000 ticket deposits in two days after it started Feb. 10. Then 13 days later it had reached just under 7,000. It’s now at 7,700 as of last week per the piece and doesn’t involve casino ticket requests.

Said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly in the story:

"The numbers that are coming out are ... within very strict parameters," Daly told me Wednesday in Toronto. "When they designed their ticket drive, they did it with our input and basically we told them what we'd like to see is how many local, non-corporate fans they can get to put up real money without a promise of having a NHL team.

"If you look at it through that lens, I think the response has been good. Because if you add to that what they probably have already in corporate and casino commitments, they basically have a full building."

We always knew this wouldn’t be like Winnipeg, which had its deposits in like … two seconds. Las Vegas has a largely transient population, which isn’t completely made up of Canadians.

But this is the first major pro sports league that seems to be seriously considering the market. After the first two days, it appeared getting to 10,000 by March 1 wasn’t impossible.

Per NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in the piece, it’s more of a long game with Las Vegas.

"If we're still having this discussion in September and they haven't achieved their objectives, then I think that will speak for itself," said Bettman. "If, in fact, the interest isn't there then he's going to stop pursuing it and that'll be the end of it."

In that case, Vegas has some time. There hasn’t been a true, real, legit deadline that has been announced to reach the 10,000 mark.

And the group, led by Billy Foley, trying to bring the NHL to the city has been aggressive, its marketing campaign including a local television ad that aired during the Super Bowl. Foley is also already making local moves contingent on the NHL coming to Las Vegas.

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Even though the NHL Board of Governors has not yet approved a team for Las Vegas, the Foley-led Hockey Vision Las Vegas has agreed to pay $1 per ticket sold in its first year to Opportunity Village, a Las Vegas not-for-profit that helps people with intellectual disabilities.Of course, the deal is contingent on the NHL awarding a franchise to Foley, chairman of Fidelity National Financial, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based mortgage company, and his hockey team partners, the Maloof family of Las Vegas.

Again, clearly Foley wants hockey in Vegas. But does Vegas want hockey? Seems like it’s moving that way regardless of who wants what. 

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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