By ALAN SNEL
Philadelphia sports fans made their presence known at Sunday’s Vegas Golden Knights game when orange jersey-wearing Flyers fans filled rows around T-Mobile Arena and their E-A-G-L-E-S chants filled the main and upper concourses.
Expects the color red in strong doses at the Golden Knights’ home ice Tuesday when the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans come to the arena. And rowdy Edmonton Oilers fans will be here Thursday, while fans with Montreal Canadiens jerseys are coming Saturday on this long seven-game homestand.
During an interview with LVSportsBiz.com Sunday, Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz said the team policy of not restricting ticket sales to non-Golden Knights fans will remain for the balance of the season. He noted Las Vegas is a tourism-based market that brings fans of all team backgrounds to T-Mobile Arena.
But the Golden Knights are likely making the Stanley Cup playoffs when the stakes will be much higher than the regular season and LVSportsBiz asked if the Golden Knights might make a move to give their fans first crack at buying playoff tickets before selling any to people outside of the Golden Knights market.
Bubolz didn’t say yes or no, instead explaining, “We’re not focused on that right now. We’re focused on tonight, and we’re focused on Tuesday, then Thursday and then Saturday.”
Most Golden Knights tickets are bought locally, with some getting into the hands of opponents’ fans via the secondary market such as StubHub.
But last year’s Western Conference champs, the Nashville Predators, have a policy of offering playoff tickets within their market first.
“We don’t have a plan to not sell to opposing fans. Our plan is to first offer tickets within our market to our fans first. If we have playoff tickets available for sale after our season ticket holder ‘pre-sales’ are done, then we offer them in our market first and if there are any left we open them up for general sales,” Predators President Sean Henry said.
We have been doing this for about seven years now,” Henry said. “All teams make tickets available for the visiting team though.”
The Golden Knights’ strategy to grow hockey — and the team’s fan base — includes a big commitment to getting kids on board with the sport. The team already has programs at its Summerlin training center to teach kids to skate and play hockey.
So, a group of Golden Knights staffers went to a local middle school Monday to announce a $500,000 program to start street hockey for nearly 80,000 students in the Clark County School District’s 63 middle schools and magnet schools.
The Golden Knights are partnering with NV Energy and the NHL Players Association to buy the equipment to get the students playing street hockey starting in March.
Bubolz led a group of team employees to Walter Johnson Junior High School Academy of International Studies to announce the Golden Knights Hockey Academy Program.
The team’s mascot, Chance, was back at it with another goofy video. It was a 34-second spot showing the gila monster mascot greasing a light pole in front of T-Mobile Arena before the Philadelphia Flyers played (and defeated) the Golden Knights Sunday. Team VP for corporate sales, Jim Frevola, reprised his “Phil” role and asked Chance what was he doing and the mascot showed a Flyers fan trying to climb a light pole near the arena. Yes, Philly was in town.