The Las Vegas Wranglers recently announced they are moving to a fabric-shell structure atop the fifth level of the Plaza’s south tower next season after Boyd Gaming declined to renew the hockey team’s lease with the Orleans Arena. With only about a month to secure a new deal, Wranglers president Billy Johnson hustled to find the team a home.
The Plaza facility is targeted for 3,500 seats, but you average more than 4,500 fans per game at the Orleans Arena. How can you make a smaller venue work financially?
There are two things that help, just by the nature of the deal. No. 1, we get control over our dates. So the numbers work in such a way that we have higher-quality dates, which means we have more demand for those tickets, which means that it’s a better financial arrangement for us. Secondly, the Plaza and the Wranglers have a true partnership. We have revenue streams that will now come to the team that we’ve never had before that compensate for the smaller capacity.
With the Wranglers controlling the venue, how do you intend to use it when the team isn’t there?
We’d love to be able to tie into First Friday and get into the vibe of Downtown, whether that involves a public ice-skating rink or small concerts or events at the facility. We’re going to hold off until the end of 2015 before we get really aggressive because we have to spend all summer building a place and getting ready for a hockey season.
How close were the Wranglers to leaving?
When we got the news on December 14 that we were getting booted, there wasn’t even time for that thought to enter our heads. The Valley responded so quickly and so positively that we knew instantly that we could figure this out. We were never close to leaving.