The NHL has begun the process of looking into potential expansion opportunities for a 31 or 32 team league. Currently, the unofficial, front runner is a team in Las Vegas, exactly, a hockey town. The ownership group has constructed an area with 17,500 seats and pre-sold 13,200 refundable seasons tickets to test the market. This has all been discussed with the NHL, with approval, yet no official commitment about a team being awarded. The cost of the expansion franchise is estimated to be $500 Million dollars, all paid to the existing 30 owners. The other expected long-shot for a team is an ownership group in Quebec. An arena is already constructed and the group meets the steep capital requirements set forth by the NHL, however due to a crowded eastern conference and a canadian area code, it is expected that they will not be successful in their bid.
The NHL is a powerful brand in Canada, with success in every Canadian Market, yet it appears that the main focus of the Commissioner is building the Brand in the US. Prior to the formal application process opening for expansion the NHL has spent considerable time reviewing the potential of the viability of the Las Vegas market by allowing the ticket pre-sales and hosting the last two NHL awards in the city. This season has been difficult for the NHL with significant attention being put on the lack of viewers and significant cost paid by the Rogers media group for the television rights to distribute games. The last thing the NHL wants is another american expansion team failure to tarnish its reputation.