Sporticast: How Sin City Became a Sports City, With Joe Maloof

On the latest Sporticast episode, hosts Scott Soshnick and Eben Novy-Williams speak with Vegas Golden Knights minority owner Joe Maloof about the NHL team’s Stanley Cup run, team ownership more broadly, and Las Vegas becoming a pro sports city.

The Maloof family, which has deep business ties in Las Vegas, owned the NBA’s Sacramento Kings until 2013, when they sold the team to a group led by Vivek Ranadive. That same day, Maloof says, they met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to discuss the possibility of adding an NHL team in Las Vegas. The NHL initially expressed skepticism about where the team would play, but a few years later the league granted the Maloofs and their partners (primarily Bill Foley) an expansion team. It was the first major U.S. league to place a team in Las Vegas.

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The Golden Knights made the Stanley Cup finals in the team’s first season, and are back this year, playing the Florida Panthers. Maloof discusses the economics of the team’s success, particularly around its emphasis on the live-event experience. The Golden Knights utilize the city’s entertainment ties for in-game acts—Blue Man Group at intermission, for example—and host a parade in town before home games. Maloof says that’s all part of the ownership group’s decision to fully prioritize Knights fans.

He also speaks more broadly about sports team ownership, and Las Vegas’s transition into a pro sports town. For decades all the major U.S. leagues avoided Las Vegas—now there’s an NHL team, an NFL team, an NLL team, a WNBA team, and an MLB team on the way. Is there a saturation point? “You have to be careful,” Maloof says. “If the baseball team comes, I think that’s enough for a while.”

Lastly, he talks about what a Golden Knights title would mean to Las Vegas. He said the championship parade would be “the biggest thing to ever happen to the city.”

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