Golden Knights make history tonight with first home game at T-Moblile Arena. Photo credit: Daniel Clark/LVSportsBiz.com

Golden Knights Skate Into Las Vegas History with Rookie Franchise’s First Home Game

By ALAN SNEL

 

Joe and Gavin Maloof remember the early days. Those were the days when the sports-loving Las Vegas brothers and former owners of the Sacramento Kings were shaking hands with hockey fans in local Las Vegas hockey bars three years ago.

 

The Maloofs were hitting skating rinks and golf club cocktail hours and sports bars all around Las Vegas to spread the word about fans signing up for season tickets for a future NHL team to be named later.

 

So tonight, when the Maloof brothers strolled along the T–Mobile Arena main concourse before the Vegas Golden Knights’ historic first home game, a pre-season game with the Los Angeles Kings, the sports duo appreciated how far they have journeyed these past few years. The Maloofs own a minority share of the Golden Knights, with Bill Foley serving as majority owner.

 

“Who would have ever thought that Las Vegas would get its own professional major league sports team? We couldn’t get one for so many years. But here we are,” Gavin Maloof told LVSportsBiz.com before the game.

 

Golden Knights minority owners Joe and Gavin Maloof attend tonight’s inaugural home game. Photo credit: Daniel Clark/LVSportsBiz.com

 

Joe Maloof put it simply, “It’s a historic night. It’s one of the great nights in the state of Nevada and the city of Las Vegas. Tonight is bringing everyone together.

 

 

The Las Vegas market – and good ol’ ex-Mayor Oscar Goodman – tried for years to lure a major league team to southern Nevada. The city vied for a Major League Soccer team most recently and was rebuffed by MLS.

 

Now the Golden Knights have broken the ice – and the Raiders hope to occupy their $1.8 billion 65,000-seat stadium by 2020. MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren is also recruiting an NBA team to T-Mobile Arena.

 

But tonight was the Golden Knights’ night, and fans came early.

 

Sure, the Golden Knights lost 3-2 to the Los Angeles Kings in overtime before 17,101 fans (it took a mere dozen seconds for the rival Kings to score the game-winner.) But the loss didn’t eclipse the game’s place in Las Vegas sports — and entertainment — history.

 

 

 

It was an hour and 40 minutes before the puck dropped and the Arlt family of Las Vegas had already settled into their Row C seats behind the Golden Knights goal.

 

Eric Arlt, 43, and his brother, Todd, 51, were already half-done with their Bud Lights. They’re LA Kings fans. But on this night they left the gold and purple jerseys at home.

 

“If the Kings score, we’ll cheer. If the Knights score, we’ll cheer, too,” said 16-year-old Alec Arlt, Eric Arlt’s son.

 

The Arlt family came early for their Row C seats. Photo credit: Daniel Clark/LVSportsBiz.com

 

Eric, Todd, Alec, and Alec’s brother, 19-year-old Anthony, all sported Golden Knights logo gear.

 

“We didn’t want to disrespect the Golden Knights tonight,” Eric Arlt said.

 

This being Las Vegas — a city of transients, newcomers and fans with many hockey team allegiances — there was a kaleidoscope of NHL team jerseys in the arena besides the gray and red of the Golden Knights. LVSportsBiz.com eyeballed fans wearing jerseys of the Rangers, Oilers, Bruins, Sabres, Maple Leafs, Penguins, Kings, Ducks, Canadiens, Black Hawks, Wild, Red Wings and Avalanche along the concourse before the game. There were even some fans who donned old Las Vegas Thunder and Wranglers jerseys.

 

Those fans with their non-Golden Knights jerseys promised to also root for their new hometown Las Vegas club.

 

Golden Knights fans enjoyed a first period fight. Photo credit: Daniel Clark/LVSportsBiz.com

 

A good example was the Bianco family of Glenn, 47; Debbie, 40; and son Ryker, five. The Biancos are Rangers fans who have adopted the Golden Knights as their new team.

 

“I’m rooting for the Golden Knights starting today,” said Glenn Bianco, a retired union carpenter who now drives a Pepsi truck. “This will change hockey in Las Vegas like Gretzky did in LA.”

 

Rangers fan Glenn Bianco vowed to start rooting for the Golden Knights during the team’s first home game. Photo credit: Daniel Clark/LVSportsBiz.com

 

The couple plans to take their son, Ryker, to City National Arena in Summerlin for skating lessons.

 

While the Biancos wore Rangers gear, there’s always Golden Knights superfan Shawn Hickey to count on to wear his homemade knights outfit and leave a trail of photographers behind him.

 

It’s not a Golden Knights game without superfan Shawn Hickey. Photo credit: Daniel Clark/LVSportsBiz.com

 

Hickey bellied up to the bar on the upper concourse to order a few drinks.

 

Bartender Kendall Aschoff took a glance at Hickey in his knights costume and quipped, “That’s wearing the colors.”

 

Owner Bill Foley promised a competitive team and that’s what fans saw Tuesday night. Photo credit: Daniel Clark/LVSportsBiz.com

 

Aschoff had just chatted with Levy Restaurants executive chef Garry DeLucia, who revealed to LVSportsBiz.com that he tried to bake a pretzel in the shape of a knight’s sword for the first home game. But DeLucia said he just could not pull it off.

 

So, he will survey his food stands to see what’s popular with Golden Knights fans during the home pre-season games and then make culinary modifications on the fly this season. DeLucia did recommend a $13 Philly cheese steak sandwich with prime rib for VGK fans at T-Mobile Arena.

 

Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com

 

 

 

 

Alan Snel

Alan Snel brings decades of sports-business reporting experience to LVSportsBiz.com. Snel covered the business side of sports for the South Florida (Fort Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel, the Tampa Tribune and Las Vegas Review-Journal. As a city hall beat reporter, Snel also covered stadium deals in Denver and Seattle. In 2000, Snel launched a sport-business website for FoxSports.com called FoxSportsBiz.com. After reporting sports-business for the RJ, Snel wrote hard-hitting stories on the Raiders stadium for the Desert Companion magazine in Las Vegas and The Nevada Independent. Snel is also one of the top bicycle advocates in the country.

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