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Vegas Golden Knights Owner Expects No Fans At T-Mobile Arena For 2020-2021 NHL Season

James Murphy
by in NHL on
  • Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley is optimistic about the prospects of a 2020-21 NHL season, likely to start in late January or early February.
  • He’s not optimistic about fans being able to attend VGK home games at T-Mobile Arena.
  • The expectation is that teams will play games in their home arenas and not in a ‘bubble’ environment.

It’s always interesting to get a sports team owner’s ‘take’ on issues and particularly so when he’s outside of the typical sports media ecosystem. That was the case on Monday, when Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley was interviewed on FOX Business News’ Claman Countdown. Foley gave something of a ‘good news/bad news’ scenario for the 2020-2021 NHL season.

Foley was a guest on the show talking about his ‘blank check’ company–more properly known as a SPAC or ‘special purpose acquisition company’ Foley Trasimene Acquisition Corporation II and the plan for a merger with Paysafe Group Holdings. Paysafe is one of the top payment processing companies in the online gaming industry and Foley hopes to see them become more involved with the Las Vegas gaming industry. The deal is valued at right around $9 billion and expected to close in the first half of next year.

Foley is very enthusiastic about Paysafe’s future in the Southern Nevada gaming market:

“I have a vision that we should be the (digital) wallet, have tie-ins with every major casino company that’s headquartered or located in Las Vegas. There will be money to be made for everybody. That’s why I got so excited about Paysafe — its position in iGaming is really second to none.”

Here’s a CNBC story about the Foley Trasimene deal with Paysafe:

Foley also talked about hockey in an appearance on FOX Business News’ Claman Countdown. Asked about the status of the 2020-2021 NHL season his comments served to validate other recent reports that while a January 1 start date wasn’t feasible there’s a good chance that there will be hockey before the end of the month or early February at the latest:

“It may not start Jan. 15, it may slide a week or two, but we will be playing hockey and we’ll be at T-Mobile.”

In just a few years, Las Vegas and T-Mobile Arena has become one of the most intimidating home ice venues in the NHL:

But now the bad news. Foley expects that the 2020-2021 season will be played without fans. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported the above quote in greater context as the Golden Knights’ owner suggested that due to the COVID-19 spike throughout the US that he doesn’t see fans returning to T-Mobile this year:

“Well, I don’t believe when (T-Mobile Arena) opens we’ll have significant fans in the arena based upon the COVID spikes that are going on. And it may not be that we — we may not start January 15th. It may slide a week or two. But we will be playing hockey, and we’ll be in — we’ll be in T-Mobile.”

“But unfortunately, we may not have fans, which is really, really sad, especially for our team because we intend on winning the Stanley Cup this year.”

The former Oakland Raiders were forced to play without fans in their first year in Southern Nevada–doubly disappointing as the team was hoping to showcase the brand new $2 billion plus Allegiant Arena near the Las Vegas Strip. Raiders’ owner Mark Davis said that he ‘expected’ to play without fans in late July and by early August had announced that would be the case. There is hope that the 2021 season will be a different matter–even US government disease czar Dr. Anthony Fauci thinks that NFL stadiums can be full in 2021 if enough people get vaccinated.

With COVID-19 vaccines expected to begin a worldwide rollout in a matter of days or weeks there’s always a chance that the same dynamic could occur for at least part of the NHL schedule. Time isn’t on the side of the NHL, however, if they hope to avoid playing hockey in empty arenas for yet another season.

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