-By Howard Reill
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What the NHL’s Golden Knights’ arrival means most of all to many in Las Vegas’ legal and business communities is, in one way or another, a sense of legitimacy.
“It has been phenomenal,” says Joseph Ganley, Senior Partner with Hutchison & Steffen, LLC. “We are enjoying having the Golden Knights in Las Vegas more than we ever anticipated.”
On a grander scale, Ganley continues, “It means we are a Big League city now. Most of us knew we had the potential to embrace big league professional sports, but now it has manifested far beyond those expectations.”
“It’s been amazing for the city and our locals,” agrees Lou D’Angeli, Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Cirque du Soleil. “Being a hockey fan and knowing how players touch the community and influence kids to play, learn team sports, not have an ego, is amazing for everyone to experience. The atmosphere is unreal and top of the league for sure. They have done an amazing job creating something very special for Las Vegas.”
“The Golden Knights have been the most exciting civic development since I moved to town in 2011,” explains Glenn H. Truitt, a partner in Ideal Business Partners. “I’ve been to eight games and watched a dozen more with friends. It’s nice to have an identity that doesn’t involve the Strip, casinos, etc.”
“Everything about Vegas Golden Knights has been first class,” agrees Tami Belt, owner and CEO of Blue Cube Marketing Solutions. “I love that Las Vegas is being seen as more than Sin City and returning to the Entertainment Capital of the World.”
Says Patty Wade, President of Wade Development Company, Inc. and Wade Consulting Group, LLC, “We are huge Golden Knights fans, season ticket holders in the lower bowl who fly down from Reno/Lake Tahoe for about 90% of home games… along with following the Knights on the road whenever possible.” She lauds the Knights’ management for being “exceptionally fan-friendly, hosting several events for the community early on and allowing liberal access to the players.”
Dr. Renee Coffman, President of Roseman University of Health Sciences, believes the Golden Knights are “different in that they are not a transplant like the (Oakland) Raiders. They’re our own home-grown, from-scratch team that we can claim without any dilution from a former home city. They are also bringing tons of fans from the opposing team into town, particularly Canadians. I think the whole atmosphere around the Knights has been electric.”
Sheila Kercher, Executive Director of Marketing for the Silverton Casino, points out that “When you go to a game there are always a fair amount of visiting team fans. It makes for another great reason to come to Las Vegas; it’s a win-win for both locals and visitors.”
The NHL’s presence also helps solve an issue the city has been grappling with, Kercher adds. “We’ve been trying to figure out, as a city, what to do as less and less people are gambling, and I think this is a great way to keep tourists coming into our city and spending money.”
“Our whole city is an underdog story, and now our first major professional sports team is one, too,” Truitt suggests. “Before the Knights, Las Vegas was the largest U.S. city without a major pro sports franchise. It was a big missing piece of our civic identity, and it kept it from feeling like we’re a real American city.”
Adds Zach Miles, Director of the Nevada Small Business Development Center at UNLV and Executive Director for the UNLV Research Foundation, the team’s arrivals means the city has “grown up, we are showing unity. It has helped business to grow and drives economic development.”
“We are the entertainment capital,” D’Angeli concludes. “Cirque du Soleil has the best the shows in the world, and partnering with a team this great, with involvement from a 360º perspective, we continue to grow our market and our fans.”
Howard Riell is a veteran journalist who over the past 39 years has written and edited for nearly 200 business and consumer publications, national trade associations, advertising/PR agencies, newspapers, research firms, newsletters, non‑profit groups, e‑zines, blogs, manufacturers and other clients across the country and abroad. He lives in Henderson.