A few weeks back we wrote how Las Vegas was not an ideal location to host eight NHL teams at once. Our main argument against a Vegas hub was the lack of quality sheets of ice.
The city of Las Vegas currently only has three sheets of ice that meet NHL standards; one at T-Mobile and two at City National Arena. A year from now there will be two more at Lifeguard Arena in Henderson, then in a few years another one at the AHL rink in Henderson, but as for now, you can’t reasonably make NHL teams vying for a playoff spot, practice at the Ice Center or Sobe Arena. Not to mention, with everyone housed on the Strip, transporting players and equipment for SEVEN teams back and forth the 17 miles to Summerlin, only to be crammed into City National Arena simply isn’t logical. -SinBin.vegas, 4/24/20
With word that the NHL is pushing a 24-team postseason format, a pod city would hold not eight, but 12 teams. Yesterday, NHL analyst Pierre McGuire jumped on TSN Montreal to pitch Las Vegas as the perfect location. The league is considering two pod cities that would hold three, possibly four NHL games per day. Southern Nevada continues to be high on the list for obvious reasons. Hotel rooms, first-class amenities, and easy access to the T-Mobile Arena and other venues. However, the lack of practice ice is greatly overlooked.
Because they got significant ice availability starting with obviously the MGM arena. They got their arena where they practice. They’ve got the Thomas & Mack Center. They’re building an arena for an American Hockey League team that might already be completed in Henderson.-Pierre McGuire, NBC Sports Analyst
The Henderson facility (Lifeguard Arena) is projected to be finished this fall. Could the league help expedite the project? Sure, but there have been no indications that’s the case. Which leaves the Thomas & Mack Center, MGM Grand Garden Arena, T-Mobile Arena, and the City National Arena to cram in practice and morning skates for 12 teams.
Two sheets of ice at the CNA could comfortably serve four NHL clubs, one being the Golden Knights. After that, it’s up in the air. T-Mobile Arena would be available for teams when actual games weren’t being played, but is that viable? Will the Thomas & Mack and Grand Garden Arena have enough time to refreeze their surfaces and make them NHL quality?
More than enough hotel space. They’ve got more than enough ice availability. They’ve got more than enough convention area for dressing rooms if they need them. They’ve got perfect infrastructure to host this.-McGuire
The league is shooting for upwards of four games per day. Considering these are playoff games with no official end time like a regular season game, cramming four into the same arena could cause some trouble. MGM Grand Garden Arena and the Thomas & Mack Center are turn-key sites with proper broadcast accessibility for league networks. In theory, Las Vegas has multiple venues with the ability to accommodate professional hockey games.
It’s so easy, it’s crazy easy to do everything in Vegas for 12 teams.- McGuire
The Orleans Casino plans on hosting Henderson’s AHL club for the 2020-21 season, so it’s possible the casino can prepare the ice sooner for the NHL. If the MGM and Thomas & Mack do the same, we’re talking about five legitimate sheets of ice.
Personally, I would exclude T-Mobile Arena as a practice site altogether. Is there enough time in the day to hold multiple games and practices? And how will the ice hold up after 8-10 hours of NHL hockey being played on it daily?
Ice remains the only true challenge for the city of Las Vegas though and the more we explore it the more it does seem feasible. No city is going to check off all boxes perfectly so Vegas’ one challenge may be one the league can overcome. Because aside from ice, there’s no easier place in the world to host 12 NHL teams. From lodging to transportation to food, Vegas has it all.