At Long Last, Our Team Has Arrived

A golden night in Las Vegas for professional sports

Vegas Golden KnightsAmit Dadlaney

Vegas Golden Knights.

For some, the name just rolls right off the tongue. For others, it takes some getting used to. Yet, there’s one thing they can agree.

It belongs to Las Vegas. Bold in Gold.

You could feel fans taking ownership as they crowded Toshiba Plaza on Tuesday night, ready to hear the name for the first time and chattering about the possibilities. Would it be Desert Knights? Golden Knights? Silver Knights?

Anxious ones started arriving early, with a few dozen gathered around the stage at 3:45 p.m. Two hours later, the crowd had swelled to an estimated 5,000 people, with even more getting a look from the windows of the Monte Carlo and the New York New York parking garage.

They came to see their team, Las Vegas’ first professional sports franchise.

After so many years of pro-league starts and stops, so many Lyle Lanley-like stadium pitches and vague promises of, “If you build it, they will come,” the city finally had a team to call its own.

Las Vegas didn’t have to pry the Golden Knights away from some out-of-state fandom; they were gifted to us via expansion, the 31st National Hockey League team. And fans didn’t have to extract a pound of flesh in the form of tax subsidies to build a modern hockey venue. T-Mobile Arena was privately funded, constructed within three years of its inception.

Vegas Golden KnightsAmit Dadlaney

So when the moment finally arrived at 6:18 p.m., and the Golden Knights helmet lit up screens around Toshiba Plaza, the jubilation flowing from the crowd mirrored the torrent of streamers and fireworks coming from the stage.

Minutes later, the throng of newly knighted fans began pouring into the arena’s team store.

“I just can’t wait, I was one of the first to buy season tickets,” Dave Aikman says, one of the many stuck outside, patiently waiting to enter the store.

Aikman, a middle school science teacher and basketball coach at Desert Oasis High School, grew up in Michigan and spent 10 years on a Detroit Red Wings season ticket waiting list. He moved to Las Vegas in 2006 without ever having his spot come up.

“This is [my] opportunity,” he says. “Right now, I thought, ‘Finally, my chance.’”

The Longest Reveal

“Reveal the name!” a fan cried as the night’s ceremony began.

It had been five months to the day since the NHL officially announced Las Vegas would be getting its own hockey franchise. Although they’d waited years for it to happen, patience was wearing thin among a crowd that had waited through summer and fall for majority owner Bill Foley to reveal the team’s name and logo.

Foley, the West Point alum who committed $500 million to the team and will never have to buy a drink in Las Vegas again, had long promised to include “Knights” in the name as a nod to his alma mater and because they represented “the highest element of the warrior class.”

“Golden,” according to Foley, acknowledges both the U.S. Army Parachute Team and the glamour of Las Vegas. “Everything here is gold, even golden sunsets. I think it’s a great tie-in.”

The decision to drop the “Las” and just go with Vegas Golden Knights came down to simple arithmetic, just “another extra word.”

“A lot of locals refer to themselves as being from Vegas, not Las Vegas, so now we have our own identity,” he says.

Vegas Golden KnightsAmit Dadlaney

The Golden Knights logo—a helmet resembling those worn by the Spartans in 300 but with a distinctive Vegas “V”—leaked online just before Tuesday’s announcement, sparking even more enthusiasm among the crowd.

“The ‘V’ really stands out, it’s modern looking, sleek, but so simple,” remarks Jason Pothier, one of the creators of the Sin Bin Vegas blog and podcast, which has been following the team’s development since August 2015 and refers to Foley as “The Creator.”

“I think you can keep it the way it is for a good 20 years,” he says.

“I’ll just say this, I didn’t think it was going to be possible, but it screams Vegas,” adds Pothier’s partner, Ken Boehlke. “The Vegas ‘V’ will be smack dab in the middle of the ice and will become synonymous with the city.”

Both agreed that, in the end, most Las Vegans would end up referring to the team as simply, the Knights. But getting the logo right, Boehlke says, was the first major test, and this team had passed.

“One of my biggest criticisms with a lot of teams is you can’t draw the logo,” he says. “I want my kid sitting in the corner of fourth grade drawing the logo. I think they can do this one.”

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