How would anyone go about selling ice hockey to desert-bound Las Vegas? No snow, no skating tradition, and it is far away from the Midwest-Canadian roots of the sport.
The Las Vegas Golden Knights NHL expansion franchise has pulled off a miracle on and off the ice. This team has captivated Las Vegas and it began with a brilliant marketing plan. The team knew it was in a unique market and did plenty of research before proceeding. The Marketing plan began with a three shift festival and open house for season ticket holders, with plenty to do for kids, and a nighttime aspect for adults. They created an arena with Vegas-style entertainment. A castle sits above one section and the cheers are unique. They created new traditions like the “Victory Flamingo” with plastic flamingos thrown on the ice after victories. The team motto is, “Vegas Born” which has become a unifying factor for fans. The average attendance in the first year was over 100% of the capacity of the 17,500-seat, T-Mobile Arena which is located on the Strip, and now, the Knights are already sold out for next year.
The team covered the digital end by secured ticketing platform deals with StubHub and a digital ticketing platform in AXS Flash Seats. This allowed for plenty of flexibility for the season ticket holders to buy, sell and cancel seats. They also made a deal with the SoCal-Nevada Toyota Dealership to be their first sponsor, which gave them ample cross-promotion. The team was aggressive in creating merchandise and memorabilia which was unique. Part of their strategy was placing a special emphasis on women’s clothing, and that has looked to pay off.
When the tragic shooting happened in Las Vegas the day before the Golden Knights opener, the team’s public/community relations departments were quick to act and donated $200,000 to the victims. The opening night ceremony was dedicated to honoring the victims. This endeared the franchise to the community seemingly overnight. The on-ice performance of the team has been a wonder. They are a speedy skating team with a relentless pursuit of the puck who won more home games than any other NHL team except the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. It defies logic that this team in its first year would make the Stanley Cup Finals and win the opening game. Game 2 is tonight.
This is the first professional major league sports team in Las Vegas and it has won the heart of the city. Previously Las Vegas was known as a college basketball and boxing city. This is an example of forward-looking ownership and management constructing a competitive and profitable franchise in record time. Game 2 takes place tonight in Las Vegas.