By ALAN SNEL
Pittsburgh Penguins fans have invaded the Vegas Golden Knights’ fortress tonight and ushers told LVSportsBiz,com that about 55 percent of the expected sellout crowd is expected to be Penguins fans.
Five ushers working in one of the clubs at T-Mobile Arena said their supervisor advised them 55 percent of the crowd would be wearing Penguins jerseys and colors.
Opposition fans are nothing new at T-Mobile Arena, so expect lots of Penguins fans to waddle into the venue tonight.
“Pittsburgh travels well,” said Penguins fan/Santa Claus Jim McMillan, a 61-year-old who flew in from Pittsburgh for the game.
McMillan is staying at New York-New York, so he strolled over in his yellow and black Santa Claus suit.
McMillan estimated that 90 percent of the Penguins fans at tonight’s game flew in from Steel City to Sin City to watch their defending Stanley Cup champion team.
The main and upper concourses were crawling with fans wearing Penguins jerseys with the names, “Crosby,” and “Fleury,” on the back about an hour before the opening face-off.
The Golden Knights are used to thousands of opponent fans filling the seats at T-Mobile Arena. Games with the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Black Hawks and Boston Bruins had some sections dominated by fans wearing the opposition colors.
The Golden Knights will not try and limit ticket sales to opponent team fans. In fact, team president Kerry Bubolz told LVSportsBiz.com earlier this season that the club welcomes opponent fans while also taking their team’s two points.
There are some teams such as the Nashville Predators that will not sell home playoff tickets to fans who live outside their immediate team market.
But in a market that attracts 41 million annual visitors, it’s not viable to limit sales to fans from only the Golden Knights’ southern Nevada and western U.S. market.
After the game, LVSportsBiz.com asked coach Gerard Gallant about the home ice about its effect on the quality of his team’s play.
Gallant said the players feed off the T-Mobile crowd. His comments from a post-game press conference:
“I think the guys know it was a big game for a lot of our players, the guys who played in Pittsburgh especially. For Fleury obviously with the three Stanley Cups he won with that organization. It was huge for him and the guys were excited and they got ready. I mean, they got ready for this game this morning so they were thinking about it. We talked about our fans and the buzz in the building and it’s outstanding to play in front of an atmosphere like that. You really hear it and they really support our hockey team so it’s a lot of fun.”
And it doesn’t matter who the fans are in the seats.
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