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Las Vegas, City of Risk, Sex, and ... Ice Hockey?

Everyone’s talking about the Raiders moving to Nevada. In the meantime, Bill Foley’s $500 million NHL expansion team is practicing its slap shots.
Lee Orchard, a Golden Knights performer, being outfitted.

Lee Orchard, a Golden Knights performer, being outfitted.

Photographer: Michael Friberg for Bloomberg Businessweek

By late summer, some 14 million visitors had landed at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas. Whether they came from Boston or Beijing, many were on the ground only about 72 hours. Probably, when they deplaned, their plans were fluid. That’s why—for an experience that’s about luggage retrieval—the baggage claim at McCarran is so thrilling, filled with electronic signs teasing a multitude of options for sensory overload, or what people in hospitality here have long called “impressions.” Even in the age of screen bombardment, this remains an essential part of the Vegas-entry high—to be so wanted, you’re followed from bags to cab to hotel check-in to elevator to the first time you flick on the in-room television.

One attraction, though, was surprisingly impressionless: the Vegas Golden Knights. It’s not just a new hockey team; it’s the first franchise from one of the four major leagues—NHL, NFL, NBA, MLB—to call Las Vegas home. This seems like it should be a big deal, and maybe it will be, but I sensed it would be easier to make small talk with the rental car clerk by bringing up the Oakland Raiders’ relocation here, set for 2020.