Las Vegas awarded NHL expansion franchise

FILE - In this Jan. 1, 2015, file photo, fireworks explode above the Strip to ring in the new year in Las Vegas. County officials have signed off on a ban on big backpacks, purses and coolers on the Las Vegas Strip during the tourist magnet's biggest events, including New Year's Eve. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

LAS VEGAS (AP) – The NHL is making a big bet on Las Vegas.

The league will expand to Las Vegas after awarding its 31st franchise to billionaire businessman Bill Foley on Wednesday. Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the decision after the league’s board of governors met on a 109-degree day and voted to put an ice hockey team in the Mojave Desert’s gambling mecca.

Foley is expected to pay $500 million to the NHL’s other owners as an expansion fee. The new team will play in T-Mobile Arena, the $375 million building that opened just off the Las Vegas Strip in April.

The NHL is expanding for the first time since 2000, when Minnesota and Columbus each paid $80 million to join the league.

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