Business has been good for the Golden Knights in Year One. Photo credit: Daniel Clark/LVSportsBiz.com

LVSportsBiz’s 5 Business Takeaways from Golden Knights’ Season First Half

By ALAN SNEL

LVSportsBiz.com

 

Sunday’s face-off against the New York Rangers at T-Mobile Arena represents the 41st game of the season for the Vegas Golden Knights, marking the official half-way point of the inaugural 2017-18 year. The sample size is large enough for LVSportsBiz.com to offer a Top 5 business takeaways from the Golden Knights’ rookie season.

 

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  1. Season ticket price increases plus a special arena charge typically would cause complaints and phone calls from upset fans. But when the Golden Knights announced last month ticket prices were going up for one-year season ticket holders and that there would also be a new $3 per ticket per game cost for an arena improvement fee for the one-year ticket deal holders, there was no major outcry. Amazing what winning can do. And Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz says it’s not like the team is charging a personal seat license. Oh, by the way, the Golden Knights-Rangers game is sold out and a season ticket holder informed me that even SRO tickets are sold out. Expect another 18,000 plus attendance crowd Sunday.
A special arena improvement fee of $3 is coming for one-year season ticket holders and it will cost $135 (45 games at $3 per ticket per game) for 2018-19. But team president Kerry Bubolz said it’s not like the Golden Knights are charging a personal seat license. Photo credit: Daniel Clark/LVSportsBiz.com

 

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2. The average Golden Knights ticket is $88, which is above the NHL average.  But the cost of a ticket has not stopped fans from filling T-Mobile Arena. After 20 home dates, the Golden Knights are averaging 17,854 distributed tickets per game — good for 102.8 percent of arena capacity. That capacity percentage is good for fourth in the NHL, behind Chicago (109.6 percent), Buffalo (106.8 percent) and Minnesota (105.7 percent). The NHL lowest is Carolina at 66.9 percent of capacity. In fact, Golden Knights tickets are selling so well on StubHub and the secondary market that Bubolz said the team could have justified raising ticket prices even higher, but he noted Foley said he didn’t want to raise the ticket costs too high.

Fans are filling the arena — even minority team owners and brothers Joe and Gavin Maloof. Photo credit: Daniel Clark/LVSportsBiz.com

 

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3. Sales of Golden Knights licensed logo gear are red hot.  The sales revenues are among the best in the NHL, with owner Bill Foley taking his Golden Knights mark globally. Initially, Foley drew some push back from locals for dropping the “Las” from Las Vegas and for the Golden Knights moniker, which pays homage to Foley’s 1967 West Point Black Knights graduation past. While Las Vegans wondered at first what the connection was between Golden Knights and a new hockey team in the desert, Foley believes he can generate revenues from VGK jersey, hat and shirt sales to Europeans (“There were knights in other countries besides England,” he says.) and even the Chinese thanks to Golden Knights points of sales at the McCarran International Airport terminals.

Golden Knights merch sales are very strong. Photo credit: Daniel Clark/LVSportsBiz.com

 

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4. The game presentation at T-Mobile Arena has received the ultimate compliment when players and fans alike say the vibe in the building feels like that of a Stanley Cup playoff game. Nobody puts on events like Las Vegas, so the Golden Knights staff from entertainment chief Jonny Greco to video ops workers to DJs had to up their game. Nashville Predators President Sean Henry said he is stealing the fan jersey conversion ceremony for his building, while the drummers with their light-decorated drums receive high scores too. The pre-game sword ceremony is over-the-top kitschy Las Vegas, but this is Vegas after all and Foley loves the sword ceremony. So, that’s staying. And the center scoreboard is the right size for the building, with the video and music integration meshing well.

The Golden Knights’ pre-game sword ceremony isn’t going anywhere. Photo credit: Daniel Clark/LVsportsBiz.com

 

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5. Bubolz, the team president, said with team operations launched for 2017-18, it’s now time to look big picture and start financially planning for the 2018-19 season. Foley takes pride in thinking outside the NHL box. Don’t forget, Foley is a lot more than just a property title insurance tycoon. He has wineries in California, a restaurant group with a half-dozen brand concepts based in Montana and a willingness to let his workers be creative. By his own admission, Foley calls himself a serial deal-maker, so watch out for more business ideas coming your way in 2018.

The Golden Knights and owner Bill Foley have more new business ideas coming in 2018. Photo credit: Daniel Clark/LVSportsBiz.com

 

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Follow LVSportsBiz.com on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. 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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