In case you have been under a rock, or just hiding out from the heat, it’s official that the NHL is coming to our city! Las Vegas. Henderson. Clark County. Southern Nevada. Whatever affiliation you like to use, it is now on US, the collective citizens of this area to make sure our first major league sports franchise succeeds. What WE do will determine whether our first major league sports franchise succeeds. The world is watching, so we need to put our game face on and make it happen in prime time. This is our Stanley Cup finals, our Super Bowl, our World Series.
WE have to step up to the challenge. WE have to live up to the expectations. WE have to be the ones to make this succeed.
Bill Foley and his Vegas Is Hockey partners did some really heavy lifting for several years to bring us this team. MGM Resorts International and AEG Worldwide spent time, effort and money to bring us a world-class facility to host the team. The NHL has placed its trust in us to be a world class sports town.
Now it’s OUR turn. Only WE can make it work from here. Are you ready? Are WE ready?
The resort community needs to support this team. We have so much creative energy, and we need to channel it to create an amazing experience for the team and its fans and for fans from all over the country and the world. No one can market and promote events better than those of us on the Strip and in the local resort community.
We have to take the bigger and collective view. This team is for all of us. In the past, resort companies (mine included) have used their entertainment facilities to achieve competitive advantage instead of viewing those facilities as community assets. As we developed T-Mobile Arena, we engaged with the entire resort community. We now have multiple casino resort companies as premium seating owners, and will host events that are sponsored by various casino resorts. Many resorts and their executives helped with the season ticket drive – THANK YOU! – and that will need to continue.
WE have to make it easy for our guests and visitors to enjoy the team – but that is what we are best at – HOSPITALITY! Pregame activities should be better in Las Vegas than anywhere else in the world. Resort companies should be helping guests get to the games with shuttles and other cooperative programs that will be true win-win scenarios.
Local Business Community
Ask a small or medium sized business in Detroit, Minneapolis, Portland, Indianapolis, or Nashville where they spend their development budgets, and premium seating and season tickets to local pro teams will be at or near the top of their list. To be a major league city, we need our businesses to play their part.
In other markets, local restaurants and bars give their customers a reason to visit on event days and facilitate their customers attending the event (who conveniently return to the local establishment after the event).
In the venue, businesses can gain exposure to their customers, and to a whole new customer base of visitors, by getting integrated into team games. It’s not just advertising or signage, but engaging customers into your brand while they attend an event and energizing your employees. This is a model we haven’t taken advantage of in Las Vegas, and it provides an opportunity for our local businesses.
Most importantly, we need locals to be passionate fans. Fans who are loyal no matter what. Fans who spend the first 15 minutes of their work day re-living the drama of last night’s game, and spend the last 15 minutes planning their trip to tonight’s game. Fans who watch every road game with their friends at the local hangouts. Fans who would wait in line for playoff tickets. Fans who fill their home with team “stuff” and never throw away a ticket stub.
I was born and raised in Las Vegas, so I get it. There are lots of hurdles for us to overcome like work schedules, other entertainment options, cost considerations. If you are from here, this is OUR chance to be the example and lead the charge. If you are from somewhere else, YOU can put to rest all those things you thought when you first moved here. We really are checking off the lists you had (no performing arts center, no modern arena, no pro sports team), so join in and make this town your own. It’s still a relatively small place, your impact can be huge.
We need the community to rise to the occasion for us to become the “big time” market that we aspire to be. This starts with one person, one ticket at a time. Use your influence, encourage your neighbors, act like a crazy fan even when we are on a losing streak. Come early and get pumped up, sing songs, make friends. Stay late and celebrate a win or commiserate a loss.
Be like those fans we admire, Boston, Detroit, Chicago. Break all the stereotypes of dis-interested “desert” fans. Set attendance records, when “they” all thought your team would fold. Set decibel records like the fans in Seattle. March to the game in your jerseys and wave your team flag. Learn more about hockey than any of those fans in Canada. Learn how to ice skate on the new rinks Bill Foley is going to build for US! Paint your face. Put a jersey on your dog. Make sure no team comes in to OUR house and gets anything less than the loudest crowd in the league.
Prove to the world that Las Vegas – like it is in so many other ways – is the best sports town ever. It’s on US Las Vegas. Stand together and shock the world. I know WE can do it!