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October 21, 2019

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NHL boss: Clearer picture on L.V. expansion expected by June meeting

Gary Bettman-NHL Finals

Gene J. Puskar / AP

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks to the media before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final series between the San Jose Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins on Monday, May 30, 2016, in Pittsburgh.

Billionaire businessman Bill Foley is leading a group whose bid for a National Hockey League expansion team has progressed through each stage of the league’s expansion process. All that’s left is the final approval.

They’ll have to continue to play the waiting game.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said today before the start of the Stanley Cup finals in Pittsburgh that the league anticipates a clearer picture on potential expansion to Las Vegas and/or Quebec City by the Board of Governors’ meeting June 22, The Associated Press reported.

While many feel Las Vegas is a lock to receive a team, Bettman remained uncommitted and said the league’s executive committee has yet to come up with a final recommendation. The meeting will be in Las Vegas as part of the NHL Awards at the Hard Rock, which some feel would be the ideal time to announce Las Vegas as the newest addition to the league.

There are three options, according to The Associated Press: The league could decline to expand, defer to a later date or go ahead with putting a new club in place in time for the 2017-18 season.

While Bettman was vague about the league’s plans with Las Vegas, he made one thing clear: The expansion efforts won’t be hindered by the Oakland Raiders’ potential move here picking up steam.

“So be it,” Bettman said of the NFL’s plans.

Foley’s group is confident they’ll be awarded a team, for which they also have plans for a state-of-the-art practice facility near Summerlin. This, of course, wouldn’t be possible if the MGM and AEG didn’t construct the $375 million T-Mobile Arena behind New York-New York on the Strip, giving a potential team an arena to play in — and, most important, it was completely privately funded.

In February 2015, Foley’s group started its highly successful season-ticket deposit drive. It hoped to get deposits for 10,000 tickets to show NHL officials Las Vegas has the appetite for hockey. They wound up getting more than 13,000 deposits.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 702-990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21

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