Foley confident in revenue potential of Golden Knights

Foley confident in revenue potential of Golden Knights

By Ian Thomas, Staff Writer


Bill Foley
Owner, Vegas Golden Knights
Bill Foley already knows what he’ll be doing during the Vegas Golden Knights’ first home game on Oct. 10.

“While we have a bunker suite with about 16 seats down by the ice and we’ll have some people there, I want to sit with [general manager] George [McPhee] for at least a period or two and listen to what he’s thinking,” he said. “I still have to learn more about hockey, and you can’t do any better than learning from the pros.”

With less than three years from inception to launch, it’s easy to see why the Fidelity National Financial chairman hasn’t much time to sit still and absorb the sport.

But while his original idea of bringing hockey to Sin City and having the NHL plant its flag as the first professional league to do so raised a lot of questions — and $500 million for the league in expansion fees — it appears that Foley’s bet is starting to pay off.

“Our expectation is that we’re going to be one of the higher teams in revenue across the league in year one, I think in the top third at the very least, and we’re going to do well financially even though we’ve spent a lot of money in this first 15 months without much revenue coming in,” Foley said. “We will be the team of and for Las Vegas, but with more than 43 million visitors coming into the city each year, we also want to be the world’s team too.”

A large part of that has come from the interest in tickets. The Golden Knights have sold more than 14,000 season tickets to the 17,500-seat T-Mobile Arena, with its 50 suites all but sold out as well. As tickets have sold at higher-than-expected rates, it is selling standing-room-only tickets for all 41 games.

Foley said because many visitors and entertainment seekers in Las Vegas are used to high prices for shows and concerts in the city, it has allowed the team to price its single-game tickets well above the average NHL price at nearly $170 a game, nearly a 50 percent yield over its average season-ticket-holder price.

The organization also expects big things from its merchandise sales. It now operates two team stores, one at the arena and one at its practice facility in nearby Summerlin, and expects to open a kiosk at the airport. Foley said original net sales numbers for merchandise were in the $4 million range, but he expects to exceed it by a wide margin.

Foley said sponsorship sales have trended better than expected, and the team is still in discussion with a few potential partners. The Golden Knights have struck deals thus far with Anheuser-Busch, Bank of America, Cirque du Soleil, Coca-Cola, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Lexus, T-Mobile and Toyota.

While it’s unclear how the team will do on the ice in its first season, Foley said his goal is to make sure the game-night experience matches the rest of the available options on the Vegas Strip.

“We’re looking at the games as not just hockey events, but really an entertainment event, where people are not only going to want to come to the game, but get there early, sit during the periods and stay late,” he said.

The organization has spent more than $1.5 million to add on-ice projections and lights, and Foley said that they’re working on plans to make their ice crew, dance crew, national anthem singers and other elements of in-game presentation stand out in the league.