Watch Out Celine Dion. Las Vegas Is Hockey's New Hot Spot

  • Golden Knights games are top sellers on the StubHub website
  • Tourists account for about 80 percent of ticket sales

The Las Vegas Golden Knights play the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on Sept. 17, 2017.

Photographer: Rich Lam/Getty Images

By all accounts, the Vegas Golden Knights won’t be the best team in the NHL this season. But hockey’s newest team has quickly become its hottest ticket.

The National Hockey League’s expansion franchise is the best-selling team on StubHub this year, with nearly twice as many tickets resold as the next closest team. At an average price of $134, the tickets are the fourth most-expensive in the NHL, and of the 10 most popular NHL games on StubHub, seven feature the Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena, a venue jointly-owned by MGM Resorts International and AEG.

StubHub’s data supports the idea that the hockey team, like the city’s concerts and shows, will be a draw for tourists. About 80 percent of purchases are coming from outside Nevada, and about half of those are from California, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania. The 20 percent bought by locals is still significantly more than the city sees for what, until now, has been its only professional sport: major boxing matches. (Hockey tickets are also a lot cheaper.)

The strong ticket sales for the Knights offer some context for the Oakland Raiders’ planned move to the city. Las Vegas is one of the smallest media markets in major professional sports, and there have been questions as to whether it can support both franchises.

But there are signs the Golden Knights are trading on more than novelty. When the Jets moved to Winnipeg in 2011, the last NHL team to open in a new city, the franchise wasn’t close to the top of StubHub’s charts.

Owner Bill Foley, chairman of Fidelity National Financial Inc., has already warned fans that the Golden Knights probably won’t make the playoffs, and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has echoed this, while maintaining some cautious optimism. "The hope is that in March, they’re still playing meaningful games," Bettman told Bloomberg TV earlier this week.

The NHL created a more comprehensive expansion draft this year to help the Golden Knights compete more quickly than other expansion teams. It took the Atlanta Thrashers seven years to make their first playoff appearance, and the Columbus Blue Jackets even longer.

— With assistance by Scarlet Fu

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