The 2024 NHL Draft will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada but the league does not yet have a venue booked for the June 28-29 event. With the regular home of the Vegas Golden Knights, T-Mobile Arena, already occupied by the UFC at the end of June, one of Vegas’ newest and most popular attractions is being discussed as a potential host.
The Sphere, owned by New York Rangers owner Jim Dolan, is an 18,600-seat auditorium opened in late September that has become well known for the 580,000 square feet of LED displays that wrap around its exterior as well as its interior’s immersive video and audio capabilities.
Interest from the NHL to hold the 2024 draft at the Sphere was first revealed in early October. The Athletic’s Chris Johnston reports on Thursday that talks have progressed further though some hurdles still remain.
“It’s certainly something the league has explored and I think the reason we’re standing here in October and we don’t know where the June draft is because the league has looked at a lot of venues in Vegas,” Johnston said on TSN’s Insider Trading last month. “But I can confirm one of the ones they have considered is the Sphere, probably the preeminent entertainment venue in the world.”
Johnston reports now that the primary obstacle in the way of the NHL securing the venue is simply the cost of the venture. The league would need to rent out the massive auditorium and then finance a show that uses the full capabilities of the “16k resolution wraparound LED screen and superior sound system.”
Irish rock band U2 were the first to demonstrate the capabilities of the Sphere when they began a 36-show residency there in September.
As things currently stand, no major North American sporting league has hosted a major event at the Sphere yet and Johnston says the NHL sees value in being the first to do so. With the league set to transition to decentralized drafts where teams make their picks from outside home bases a la the NFL, the final, fully in-person draft would go out with a bang at such an unique venue.
The Sphere does have enough floor space to fit in all 32 teams and their accompanying draft entourages as well as the typical draft stage.
“The issue, the only open issue, is whether we have it as early as 2024 or whether we push it to 2025,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Thursday. “I think our objective is to have a 2024 Draft that looks a lot like our traditional Draft and transition in 2025. But we don’t have enough premonition to say that’s what’s going to happen.”
Johnston adds that the NHL is expected to host its annual awards show in Los Angeles, California earlier in the week before the draft.
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