They won't play for another year and haven't even announced a team name yet, but the new NHL franchise in Las Vegas has already reached the limit on season ticket deposits for its inaugural campaign in 2017-18.
The team announced Monday that it had reached the cap on deposits for the maximum 16,000 season tickets for their first season. Fans that didn't get their deposits in before this will be able to put money down for a spot on the waiting list.
The brand new T-Mobile Arena, located just off the Las Vegas Strip near New York, New York, is expected to have a capacity of 17,500 for hockey. To have this many deposits collected is a huge victory for the expansion team before they ever step foot on the ice. It also hopes quell skepticism amid the scrutiny this team will face simply because it is the first major professional franchise in Las Vegas.
This has been a process 18 months in the making, as then-prospective owner Bill Foley had asked the NHL for permission to seek down-payments on season tickets. At that point, the team didn't have any assurances that they would be accepted into the NHL.
By the time the NHL's Board of Governors were set to reach their decision on the team, the prospective franchise had already eclipsed 13,000 deposits. A shade under three months since they received approval to become the NHL's 31st franchise, they have hit the max.
Here's what Foley had to say about this franchise milestone, via statement:
"We launched a season ticket drive in February 2015 to demonstrate the long-term viability of an NHL franchise in Las Vegas and were able to surpass our initial goal within months. Since then, we have hired an outstanding [hockey operations staff]. Today, we are proud to announce that season tickets for the 2017 season are sold out. This is a truly historic event for the Las Vegas community, the NHL and all of our fans. I would like to thank everyone who has supported and continues to support our efforts to make the Las Vegas NHL franchise a success."
There is so much work to be done and it is going to take time, patience and a whole lot of money, but this is one of the first indicators that the team can have success. It will be up to them to sustain the buzz that is automatic anytime a shiny new toy arrives in a market.
Until the team becomes competitive and starts making runs for a Stanley Cup, they won't be as popular as they are right now. Selling out the season tickets gives them a foundation to build off of from a marketing standpoint and should give Foley a fairly good indication that this market is going to reward him for his initial commitment to bringing a major pro sports franchise to Las Vegas.