“Our 2013 analysis estimated that there are just 91,000 NHL fans in metro Las Vegas. That’s tiny even by comparison to the six smallest NHL markets that I mentioned before, which have between 146,000 (Nashville) and 279,000 (Tampa) hockey fans. And it’s well below Seattle’s 241,000 or Quebec City’s 530,000 fans.”
Let’s just start there. I’m far from smart enough to challenge America’s most well-known mathematicians’ data gathering techniques, but he’s definitely missing a massive part of the population when compiling these numbers.
He’s not taking into account the ridiculously large number of people in the valley that do not currently declare themselves as NHL fans, but would instantly jump on board when their adopted hometown is granted a franchise. Vegas is an excellent sports city with probably the most intelligent collection of sports fans anywhere in the world. The reason we are so damn smart
and sexy is because of our thirst for sports knowledge to gain an edge on the sports books. These are all sports fans, and good ones, but are not necessarily NHL fans…yet.
Let’s compare Vegas to Nashville. Tenneseeans (is that right?) care about the Predators, the Titans, and maybe a little Rocky Top Football, but they likely don’t know much about teams on the West Coast because they are too busy focused on their own teams. Here in Vegas, once we get that team to call our own, people will come out of the woodwork to support them, and they’ll be the most knowledgeable fans in the NHL almost immediately.
“The city has had several professional sports franchises (albeit none from the four or five largest North American sports leagues), and it hasn’t supported them very well. It’s asking a lot for Las Vegas to support a major league team when it’s struggled to support pretty much every minor league team that’s tried to play there.”
C’mon. Really? Do we actually think the way a city supports an Arena football team, AAA baseball team, and AHL hockey team will have any impact on the way a city will gravitate towards an NHL team? Seriously?
None of those teams ever sold 13,000 season tickets before the franchise even existed. Minor league is minor league. This is the big leagues, and this city is ready to support it.
Last summer, the Mountain Ridge Little League team made the Little League World Series USA Championship. We had watch parties, we had parades, the kids went on a media tour when they came back. Anyone who was here to see how we supported a group of 11-year-olds will surely know how ready to support a sports team this city really is.
Statistically, it may not be there in the eyes of Mr. 538, but there’s no way to measure pride. Here in Vegas, we have it. It’s just a matter of time that Nate Silver and the rest of the world will get to see.