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Celebrating Two Years Of Support From Our Fans

On February 10, 2015, we began our ticket drive that eventually resulted in the birth of Vegas' NHL franchise

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

It wasn't much to look at.

A few telephones, a handful of computers and an abbreviated row of desks neatly positioned beneath its windows.

And a functional, square table dropped in the middle.

That's about it. Just 300 square feet of glory.

Other than the hint of palm trees that subtly peaked through the usually drawn-in shutters, there wasn't much indication that this tiny, Spartan office space was anything more than…tiny, Spartan office space.

But despite its unspectacular setup, this nondescript outcove in a Henderson office was Ground Zero for the launch of Las Vegas' NHL franchise two years ago today.

On February 10, 2015, a skeleton staff of six contracted and part-time employees, forted up in this mostly forgettable suburban office and began the unforgettable process of selling season ticket deposits for NHL hockey.

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"We started out two years ago with this ticket drive and we were trying to sell tickets for a team that didn't exist to play in an arena that had not yet been built," team owner Bill Foley said.

"Boy, what a two years it's been."

At the time, the goal was simple in theory, complicated in application.

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Foley had been given permission by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to conduct a ticket drive to gauge the interest for hockey in Las Vegas. The NHL, lukewarm on Vegas, was hoping to witness enough local support for hockey to justify exploring expansion to our city.

10,000 deposits was the magic number.

 

Video: Foley surprises Golden Knights season ticket holder

 

The complicated part was that Foley had just weeks to assemble a staff, and that makeshift staff had to nearly sell out an arena that had yet to be built for a team that didn't exist.

"Selling the dream," is how it was often described.

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When the history of our team is written, its origin will commonly be cited as the day NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman eventually awarded the city its franchise on June 22, 2016.

The date of this franchise's first game this coming October, and the date that the Golden Knights name and logo were revealed last November, will also become central parts of the story.

 

Video: Bill Foley on the choosing of team name and logo

 

While it'll probably eventually be mostly forgotten, without the "selling of the dream" that began two years ago today, everything that's come since would never have existed.

The only member of Foley's 2015 staff who remains part of the team's front office is current Vice President of Ticketing and Suites, Todd Pollock.

Pollock, now 33, was just months removed from earning his MBA at Baylor University in early 2015. He had been ticketed for a guaranteed job at IBM, until one of his former bosses with the Los Angeles Kings, then AEG COO Kelly Cheeseman, phoned him about an opportunity in Las Vegas.

"He (Cheeseman) called me out of the blue when I was down in Texas, and said: 'We've done some consulting with this group led by Bill Foley, and they want to bring a hockey team to Las Vegas,'" Pollock said. "I obviously had never heard of it.

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"I said I appreciated it, but I've got a job with IBM and I start in May. Thanks, but it's not going to work. He said: 'great, they only need someone for 90 days.'"

At Cheeseman's urging, Pollock flew out to Vegas for an exploratory visit that January, where he first met Bill Foley. Pollock was also included on the invite list of an A-list-only event at the Palms, where the Maloofs had invited a who's who of Las Vegas and national celebrities to rally support for Foley's plan.

 

Video: Vegas Golden Knights name unveiling behind the scenes

 

"The event, it wasn't the reason I came aboard," Pollock said. "But it didn't hurt."

Pollock arrived in Vegas to start work for a group then called "Vegas Wants Hockey" shortly thereafter. Where instead of banking on the certainty of an IBM job, he rolled the dice on the seemingly improbable proposition of helping deliver this city's first major league sports franchise.

 

 

He arrived only three weeks before the ticket drive without a place to live, and as the team's only employee.

"It was pretty frantic, trying to build a staff in maybe two weeks," he said. "We hired six people that were contractors or part-time folks. A lot of people had emailed in just on the general inbox, looking for jobs. But I found people, and some found us in some cases.

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"There was one guy that was getting his MBA at UNLV. Another guy working on his real estate license and had some time off. One guy, stayed on staff for about nine months, was a service manager with the Washington Capitals, coincidentally. A former season ticket holder of his was a lady near retirement age, who loves hockey.

"Just a mix of people. Anybody that understood hockey and really loved it."

 

 

For this crew, February 10, 2015 could fairly be described as helter-skelter.

With NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in town for a mid-afternoon press conference that included Bill Foley, the Maloofs and other persons of importance in both hockey and local circles, this was the day that Las Vegas' desire for NHL hockey went public.

This quickly led to an outpouring of interest, with Pollock's small staff, in its small office, receiving a deluge of phone calls.

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Questions ranged from how to make deposits, to details on the team and in some cases, just curiosity as to how the NHL could thrive in such a unique market.

"Even if there were a couple dozen calls at once, the phone never stopped ringing," Pollock said. "It was pretty frantic that day.

"There were some highly influential people. Some pretty high profile people, whether they were business executives or some former NHL players that had expressed interest. We had connected with George Parros, Jeremy Roenick had put in a deposit. Pierre and Eric Lacroix. There were certainly some level of celebrity."

Amidst the shell fire of endless telecommunication that hectic afternoon, there was progress.

"I was pretty happy that we got to the 3,500 (deposits sold) in the first day," Foley said. "But then it was the momentum and it kept on building, going forward and going forward. We kept on selling tickets every day.

"Within 30 days, we were over 10,000 season ticket deposits. Within 60 days, we were at 11,000. The program was very successful and it was very exciting. It was a lot of fun."

 

Video: Bill Foley On Finding Out Las Vegas Got A Team

 

Fun, of course, because of how well the drive went.

It sure wouldn't have been much fun if this ticket drive had fell flat.

But with numbers that steadily crept up and now have surpassed the 16,000 mark, the interest that Las Vegas showed in NHL hockey, beginning two years ago today, made a difference.

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This difference is what fueled Las Vegas' drive for an NHL franchise, eventually resulting in the birth of our team, the formation of our name and the building out of a permanent staff.

As well as an upgrade in office space from its humble beginnings in Henderson.

"We went back and met with the NHL and Commissioner Bettman and the general counsel," Foley said. "And (Deputy Commissioner) Bill Daly. We gave them our presentation. And they looked at it and it was like: 'wow, you guys really did it.' That's when I knew we had been successful and turned a lot of heads.

"It just speaks to the strength of Las Vegas.

 

Tweet from @GoldenKnights: 2 years ago today, we began our ticket drive, starting our push for an NHL team. 2 years later, thank you for all your support! #BoldInGold pic.twitter.com/TC3kGCoJfs

 

"I just want to thank Las Vegas and thank Las Vegas for the support of our great endeavor of bringing NHL hockey to this wonderful town."

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