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November 24, 2014

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NHL says no credibility to report of Las Vegas expansion team

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L.E. Baskow

Richard Shaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions; Steve Sisolak, Clark County commissioner; Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International; boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr.; Dan Beckerman, president and CEO of AEG; Bill Walton, sportscaster and former NBA player; Luke Robitaille, president, business operations for the Los Angeles Kings; and Dana White, president of UFC, break ground on a new indoor arena in Las Vegas on Thursday, May 1, 2014. The 20,000-seat sports and entertainment venue will be located near New York-New York and Monte Carlo and adjacent to I-15.

Updated Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 | 11:26 a.m.

AEG and MGM Resorts Arena Groundbreaking

Confetti flies as AEG and MGM Resorts International representatives and celebrities break ground on a new world-class indoor arena in Las Vegas onThursday, May 1, 2014.  The 20,000-seat sports and entertainment venue will be located near the heart of the famed Las Vegas Strip and adjacent to the I-15 corridor. Launch slideshow »

National Hockey League officials today denied a late Tuesday report suggesting Las Vegas is one of four teams in line for an expansion team.

Tony Gallagher of The Province reported that sources indicated the Las Vegas franchise is a “done deal.”

Not so fast, says the league.

An email from the Sun seeking comment from the league was sent this morning to Frank Brown, vice president of media relations for the NHL. He returned with the following: “To comment would ascribe credibility to the report — and there is none whatsoever.”

The league provided this from Bill Daly, the NHL deputy commissioner: “There is nothing new to report on this subject. Nothing new has happened.”

Reports say Seattle, Quebec City and a second team for Toronto would round out the expansion, bringing the league to 34 teams. It last expanded in 2000, adding the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild.

Expansion would require approval from team owners, and they wouldn’t consider Las Vegas until an NHL-ready arena and ownership group were in place.

Las Vegas will soon have a suitable venue. MGM and AEG are building a privately financed project behind the New York-New York and Monte Carlo that is scheduled to be finished in spring 2016.

Jenn Michaels, MGM Resorts spokeswoman, declined to address the report, adding that the company "does not respond to rumors or speculation." She did say that MGM Resorts' new Strip arena can accommodate professional hockey or basketball but the project's success doesn't depend on landing a pro team.

Las Vegas would still need an ownership group. The expansion fee for the four teams would be a combined $1.2 billion, according to Howard Bloom of Sports Business News.

This isn’t the first time Las Vegas has been rumored for its first professional franchise. Eventually, some feel, a team will finally find its way. Time will tell if it’s hockey.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21

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