**Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Famer, Steve Carp’s returns to SinBin.vegas for the 2019-20 season. His weekly column publishes every Sunday during the Golden Knights season and is brought to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm.**
Where to begin?
The music. The cheerleaders. The mascots. The pregame and between periods videos. The skits on the ice. The arena hosts and hostess.
The in-game experience at T-Mobile Arena is unmatched in the NHL. I know. I’ve been in every rink and I can tell you for a fact nothing rivals the emotional feeling and the energy that comes once you step inside The Fortress.
Of course, I’m pretty much preaching to the choir here. But the man responsible for most, if not all of it, has decided to move on.
You may recognize the name. A few of you can even place the face. But the handiwork of Jonny Greco is known to all of you because he made sure you were part of it all.
Whether it was the third period exhortation for everyone to yell and clap during an ice maintenance, or singing “Sweet Golden Knights” and “Home Means Nevada” between periods, or having celebrities and fans alike crank up the siren to begin each period, Greco made sure you were and remained engaged, regardless of the score.
And whether you love everything about attending a Golden Knights game or only a small portion of it, you have Greco to thank.
This is from the press release put out by the team back on April 7, 2017 announcing Greco’s hiring:
Las Vegas is the entertainment capital of the world. We recognize and embrace the expectations that come along with playing our games here from a performance perspective. Jonny possesses a unique background that spans multiple professional teams, leagues and sports entertainment entities. His creative vision will help us produce exceptional in-game presentation and entertainment, which will create memorable and enjoyable experiences for our fans. –Kerry Bubolz, Golden Knights president
So when word got out Friday that Greco was leaving the Strip for Broadway (He has reportedly taken a job with Madison Square Garden), it was an end of an era of sorts. But the stamp he las left on the franchise is indelible.
Thinks about this: When was the last time a network, any network, decided to show the pregame show on the air?
Yes, NBC always shows Jim Cornelison sing the anthem in Chicago and would do likewise for Rene Rancourt when he sang in Boston and the late John Amirate when he sang at the Garden for Rangers games. But when the network introduced the country to the imagery on the ice during the 2018 playoffs and the way T-Mobile rocked, that was a way of paying tribute to Jonny Greco.
This was his vision and he and his staff manage to pull it off. Whether it was Lee Orchard the Golden Knight winning the nightly “battle” over his adversary, or the March to the Fortress or turning owner Bill Foley into a decent actor in a video, Greco made sure you were engaged and having fun.
So what if the pregame music was turned up a few decibels higher than it needed to be? Who cared if the bass was so loud your laptop bounced on the table in the press box? It sure as hell got your attention.
I’ve been fortunate to work and collaborate with inspired individuals who are relentless in improving the fan experience and creating engaging content that leaves indelible marks on your fans, from creating a forever-memory for a father and son, or an aunt and her nephew, and so on. -Greco to the Las Vegas Sun in 2018
And that was precisely the point. The word “indelible” keeps coming back to me because you may or may not remember the final score. But you certainly will remember seeing yourself on the Knight Tron or your kid doing the Floss dance.
Greco has made pseudo-celebrities out of some fans. You know who they are. They’re shown every game on the video screen above center ice. And the celebrities have become fans, whether it’s Donny and Marie Osmond, Shaquille O’Neal, Criss Angel, Carrot Top and Jon Taffer, who all appear in the pregame welcome (FYI, Shaq is my favorite. I crack up every time when it’s his turn).
Yeah, some of it is over the top. But it’s Vegas, remember? We’re expected to be a little more creative. And don’t forget Greco’s background. He worked for the WWE and he learned the importance of keeping the audience engaged.
The players love the atmosphere. They feed off the energy. Even opponents marvel at it when they play here.
I feel bad for whoever takes Greco’s place. He or she has a lot to live up to. He set the bar pretty high.
Here are my five favorite Golden Knights in-game experiences from the Jonny Greco Era:
5. The “Excalibur” scene on the ice from pregame the first two seasons
4. The Ryan Reaves “Knight” player lounge scare video 2019-20
3. The pregame video from the inaugural season
2. Carnell Johnson singing the national anthem(s)
1. The on-ice “destruction” of the Winnipeg “Jet” during the 2018 playoffs
Honorable mention: The Vegas Belles, the Drumline, the players telling the fans to return to their seats for the next period (I especially miss Ryan Carpenter in this, though I enjoy Mark Stone’s role), Nate Schmidt’s “Knight Time” scream
**Steve Carp is the author of “Vegas Born — The remarkable story of the Golden Knights.” Follow him on Twitter @stevecarp56. All of Steve Carp’s work here on SinBin.vegas is presented to you by the Jimmerson Law Firm. For over twenty-five years, the Jimmerson Law Firm has been widely recognized as one of Las Vegas’s preeminent full-service law firms. Specializing in high stakes business, civil and family litigation, the Jimmerson Law Firm has an unparalleled track record of winning when it matters most. To reach the Jimmerson Law Firm, call (702) 388-7171 and tell them SinBin.vegas sent you.**