Las Vegas Sun

November 21, 2018

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Unexpected journey with Golden Knights is ‘money well spent’ for this fan

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Courtesy of Jason Sakuma

Jason Sakuma, right, and his father, George, pose for a picture during the Golden Knights’ playoff game against the San Jose Sharks at T-Mobile Arena on April 26, 2018.

In the Golden Knights’ inaugural season, season ticket holder Jason Sakuma estimates he has spent over $16,000 on tickets, food and beverages at the games, Uber rides and merchandise.

He doesn’t have overly expensive seats right on the glass, rather balcony seats at the bottom of the upper bowl. But when Sakuma budgeted for hockey season, he didn’t anticipate spending $760 for his two seats every home game of the Stanley Cup Final.

His hockey spending has gone far over budget, but he says it was worth every penny.

“It’s totally priceless,” Sakuma said. “Just the time I get to spend with my father alone is worth it. I was dragging him to preseason games and after the Oct. 10 home opener with him being there and all the emotion, he was hooked.”

George Sakuma, 68, wasn’t much of a hockey fan before the NHL came to Las Vegas, preferring other sports like football. He’s a diehard Chargers fan. But Jason would drag him to Golden Knights’ events like the June 21 expansion draft and preseason games.

“I honestly felt bad,” Jason said. “He was going just to appease me.”

Months later, that’s far from the case, as George has been converted into a full-fledged Golden Knights super fan.

“Now when I get home from work he is the one dressed in Golden Knights gear and ready to go to the game,” Jason said. “Just to spend 90 percent of the games with him. It’s been $16,000 well spent with all the fun we’ve had.”

Jason said the atmosphere at T-Mobile Arena is what hooked his father on hockey.

“Everybody there is so friendly,” Jason said. “We know all of the season ticket holders who sit around us and have made a lot of friends this season. There was never a dull night. A Tuesday night feels no different from a Saturday night.”

Jason hasn’t missed a single home game this year and has at least one more to attend with Game 5 between the Golden Knights and Capitals set for Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena. Down 3-1, Vegas is on the brink of elimination and must win three straight to win the Stanley Cup.

Before the season started, Jason placed a $50 bet on the Golden Knights to win it all at 175-to-1 odds that would pay out $8,800. He’s had plenty of chances to hedge the bet or sell it on a site like Prop Swap for a portion of the winnings, but he is riding it out to the end.

“I still have complete faith in the team,” he said. “If it goes to Game 7, I may have a heart attack during the game. Not even because of the money but because of everything as a fan.”

At this point, Sakuma’s only chance to win is Vegas forcing a Game 7 by winning the next two. It’s highly unlikely, considering only one team has come back from a 3-1 deficit in Stanley Cup Final history, and that was in 1942.

But if Vegas pulls off one more miracle, it would essentially pay for Jason’s season tickets next year. The payout is within dollars of his total amount due for next season.

“If I can get a chunk of that money back, then great,” he said. “I’m either going to lose $50 or I’m going to ride it out to the end with the team and win. It’s been an amazing season either way.”

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