Vegas a stronger market than the conventional wisdom suggests

AP Photo/Isaac Brekken

Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters didn’t hesitate for moment. Asked whether he felt the NHL would work in Seattle (he spent three seasons in Spokane -- leading the Chiefs to the Memorial Cup in 2008), he gave it his full endorsement.

“Guaranteed home run,” Peters said when we chatted last week. “As long as you have good ownership. It’s a great sports town. I don’t know how they butchered the NBA, but look at the Mariners, the Seahawks and the corporate money support. It’s a slam dunk.”

And that’s the conventional wisdom. Of the two front-runners for NHL expansion, Seattle is seen as the lock, with only the lack of an arena slowing down the process. Las Vegas, on the other hand, is still in the "show me" portion of the process.

According to colleague Scott Burnside, Las Vegas has exceeded the 10,000 local season-ticket holders threshold, and has moved on to corporations and casinos for support.

That it took until late March to get to that point is up for debate as to whether that’s a positive, or a little slower than expected.

Which brings us to the ESPN Sports Poll, a survey of sports fans ages 12 and up that tracks a multitude of trends in the world of sports, including the largest fan bases and, for our purposes, the percent in each market who are avid NHL fans.

Among the largest fan bases, there are very few surprises.