BY ALAN SNEL
Brian McMullan figured at least 200 customers at his popular Irish pub are Vegas Golden Knights season ticket holders and that his tavern has earned a reputation as a place for hockey fans to hoist a pint and devour steak and mushroom pie.
So, McMullan has invested about $60,000 in a 28-seat bus with a snazzy vehicle wrap to ferry his Golden Knights-loving customers from the 7,000-square-foot pub next to the Orleans on Tropicana Avenue to T-Mobile Arena, the first-year hockey team’s home ice.
To hop the 28-seater for free to get to and from Golden Knights games, McMullan’s customers need to buy a meal and reserve a seat at least a day in advance.
“We always had a reputation for being a hockey pub,” McMullan said. “It seemed like the natural thing to do. I think it’s a good investment.”
McMullan said his pub was a sponsor of and a hangout for the old Las Vegas Wranglers hockey team, the former East Coast Hockey League club that played next-door at the Orleans Arena.
McMullan said his Irish pub has developed a reputation as a hub for fans to watch hockey and soccer because there are so many other bars that cover their walls with TV screens for NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball games.
McMullan himself has spent $29,000 on eight Golden Knights season tickets for 10 years.
He said the 41 Golden Knights home games plus three pre-season games give him 44 dates to attract hockey fans for a bite and a free round-trip to the arena.
“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think my business would benefit from this,” McMullan said.
He’s also enlisted a driver and a back-up to ferry customers two or three times a night for the games. The driver will serve an ambassador on behalf of the pub and will have his own cell number for the fans that he shuttles to the arena.
McMullan figured the trip back to his pub will be more tricky because of traffic control issues at and around the arena, which holds about 18,000 for hockey.
McMullan is also spending money to beef up parking at his pub and his staff will wear Golden Knights shirts and caps on game nights.
“When you come to the pub, you will know we support the team,” he said.
McMullan had looked at a 40-seat bus, but he thought it was a bit too expensive.
He and his driver still have to map out the best route to the arena and the best place to pick up customers after the games. McMullan said some customers may take an Uber back to the pub or stick around the Strip for a while, so there might be less trips back to the pub.
Once McMullan fine-tunes his shuttle service, he’ll look into potential bus road trips for Golden Knights games in Phoenix and Los Angeles. And he might look into taking soccer fans to Cashman Field in downtown Las Vegas next year when a new minor league soccer club starts play in the United Soccer League.
It’s not unusual for restaurants to ferry fans to games. For example, Naked City Pizza, which has four sites in Las Vegas, will start a 36-seat bus shuttle service to Golden Knights games for $10 a seat from the 4608 Paradise Rd. site, said Robert Chaney, Naked City manager.
Fans will have pizza and drink specials before and after Golden Knights games, Chaney said.
McMullan said he’s confident his shuttle program will work for Golden Knights games, but acknowledged he’s a little “nervous,” too, because it’s a new pub feature.
“It’s all about the execution of it,” he said.
Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com