Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016 | 3:45 p.m.
The construction helmets didn’t quite fit, but the shovels worked just fine this afternoon as majority team owner Bill Foley and several others gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Las Vegas hockey team’s practice facility at Downtown Summerlin.
Located near Pavilion Center Drive and Griffith Peak Drive, the 120,000-square-foot facility will include two full sheets of ice that will service not only Vegas’ first major professional sports team but also local youth and adult leagues. About 200 people turned out for the event, adding further proof, Foley said, that Vegas is ready for hockey.
“It’s a confirmation of the level of support we have here in Las Vegas for this (team),” Foley said.
The absence of a team nickname dominated many of the comments, with Clark County Commissioner Susan Brager even causing a minor stir when she accidentally screwed up her joke while talking about the benefits of the facility for growing the game of hockey locally.
“I think our children are going to have a future that they never had before and that’s because of the hockey team, the Black … something hockey team,” Brager said, quickly realizing that she meant to say the something Knights.
The team name will be either the Desert Knights, Silver Knights or Golden Knights, and Foley said today that on Nov. 19, they would have an event at Toshiba Plaza outside of T-Mobile Arena to announce the name and color scheme. Foley said the colors will be similar to Army, his alma mater, and he recently asked for one of the colors to be more prominent, so he’s waiting on a sample from adidas “to demonstrate that this is going to be a powerful color,” he said.
“There’s going to be some gray, there’s going to be some Red Rock red, there’s going to be some gold, there’s going to be some black, there’s going to be some white,” Foley said. “It’ll all kind of work together.”
After swapping out a gold helmet for a silver one he could actually get to fit, Foley dug in for the ceremonial groundbreaking alongside team General Manager George McPhee, president of Summerlin for the Howard Hughes Corp., Kevin Orrock, Bank of Nevada CEO John Guedry, Brager and Steve Sisolak, the chairman of the Clark County Commission. Sisolak has spent a lot of time lately focused on another professional team, the Oakland Raiders, and he said the football stadium conversations wouldn’t be where they are now without Foley.
“Football wouldn’t be being talked about right now if Mr. Foley had not broken the glass ceiling on getting professional sports in Las Vegas, and there’s going to be more coming after this because of this man,” Sisolak said.
The facility, which McPhee called the best in the business, is expected to be open by Sept. 1, 2017. That’s a little more than a month before Las Vegas will play its first-ever game, and it gives the team a home in what Foley called “the prime site in all of Las Vegas.”
The games will be played on the Strip, but Foley and company want the team to really feel like part of the entire community. Many of the players will live out near the facility, and in less than a year, it will be a common to occasionally see NHL players skating alongside youth players.
“Las Vegas is full of locals and they want to have something that they’re a part of, and this hockey team is going to be a locals team,” Foley said.