By ALAN SNEL
Sean Henry sat in the front row of suite 45 and his eyes scanned T-Mobile Arena for a few tricks he might like to have at his own arena.
Henry, president of the Nashville Predators, enjoyed the Vegas Golden Knights drummer light show act and the arena’s high-tech video and music and the way the two are integrated at T-Mobile Arena. Henry thought the T-Mobile Arena center scoreboard was the ideal size for the arena even though it was not necessarily the biggest jumbotron in the NHL.
But the one thing Henry is stealing is the Golden Knights’ fan conversion idea, when a local Las Vegan gives up his or her old team hockey jersey in favor of a new Golden Knights jersey and is “knighted” by the VGK knight character. In this case, a Las Vegas woman gave up her gold Predators jersey (the jersey is NOT yellow, Henry says) and donned a new Golden Knights hockey sweater.
“I love the conversion,” Henry told an LVSportsBiz.com writer, who knew Henry in the good ol’ days when Henry was chief operating officer of the 2004 Stanley Cup-winning Tampa Bay Lightning.
“We do something like that but we don’t make a show of it,” Henry said. “I love the way this city loves this team.”
Henry talked about his impressions about the Golden Knights and the T-Mobile Arena hockey atmosphere.
Henry caught up with Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz between periods two and three and two swapped business ideas.
Their teams have much in common. Both franchises are based in sunbelt entertainment markets where fans have passionate, emotional connections to the players and team. He also thought the Golden Knights’ pre-game sword ceremony “reinforces how special the bond is between the team, the community and the type of entertainment here.”
Both franchises place a top priority on high character players and Henry explained why from the Predators’ standpoint: “It creates a culture forever. You don’t have to preach it. That’s the way it is.”
Henry also had an idea for the Golden Knights and T-Mobile Arena — break down the event-level suite walls along the hallway where the players walk from the locker room to the ice so that fans in those back suites can see the players as they stride to the arena rink. He noted Bridgestone Arena — a 21-year-old venue — has that feature where fans in a bottom-level suite can watch the Predators players walk to the ice.
“You can imagine what it’s like for the players to walk through the crowd. It’s a love affair,” Henry said.
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