The long-term goal is to make the Vegas Golden Knights “The Team of the Rockies,” owner Bill Foley said Wednesday, in announcing the NHL team's radio partner.
On Thursday, Foley is expected to announce the team’s first coach. Gerard Gallant, who was fired by the Florida Panthers in November, is reportedly the man. Gallant compiled a 96-65-25 record in two-plus seasons with the Panthers.
Foley has chosen local radio powerhouse Lotus Broadcasting to deliver coverage of the expansion team to a vast media market via Fox Sports Radio (1340 AM, 98.9 FM). The broadcasting company will also air a Game of the Week on ESPN Deportes (1460 AM).
Geographically, the challenge would appear to be daunting: converting Golden Knights fans from the neon-lit Strip to the Canadian border.
Tony Bonnici, general manager of Lotus Broadcasting Las Vegas, is confident he has the platforms to make Foley’s vision a reality. Times and technology have dramatically changed, said Bonnici.
“At one time in our radio history a 50,000-watter station was a lot more sexier than a less watter station,” he said during an interview with VSIN.com.
“Here’s the reality of radio today,” said Bonnici. “With Lotus, they are going to be on an AM (station), an FM (station) and they are also going to be streamed. So the bottom line, with your phone, or in your car or in your home or anywhere, you will be able to pick up the Knights’ games anywhere.”
Foley is pleased with the expansive media market he has for the expansion team.
“The NHL was very good to us,” Foley said during a speaker-phone hookup from his home in Montana while announcing the deal with Lotus on the Ed Graney and Seat Williams show.
“They gave us Nevada, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Utah,” said Foley. “So we have a very large geographic territory, but we have some great cities in there besides Las Vegas, including Salt Lake, Provo, Boise and Reno and then an entire belt of cities across Montana that are hockey crazy, I mean really that is the sport from Kalispell to Whitefish all the way across to Billings.”
Of the three-year partnership, Foley said, “We’re trying to bring as much content to Las Vegas as we possibly can.”
Unlike many stations that are forced to preempt broadcast in professional sports markets, that won’t happen under this arrangement.
“We would not have gone in and talked to the Knights if it had compromised our other partners,” said Bonnici.
ESPN 1100 has been UNLV’s flagship for about 20 years and the Las Vegas 51s baseball games have been broadcast on NBC’s 920-AM for about 30 years, he said.
Radio won’t be the only marketing piece crucial to the Golden Knights’ success.
Foley recently hired Emmy-winning Jonny Greco as their Senior Director, Live Event Producer. He spent the past five years with World Wrestling Entertainment where he produced live WWE events worldwide. Before that, he was the Director of Video Productions for the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2004 to 2011. He and his Cavs’ production team won four regional Emmys.
Foley shared what Golden Knights fans will experience on Opening Night in October.
"The arena goes dark and in the center of the ice is Excalibur (the mythical sword of King Arthur) and other team’s mascot will skate out and try to pull Excalibur from the ice, but can’t do it.
“Then the Golden Knight mascot will skate out and pull Excalibur out of the ice and hold it in the air and the ice will crack and as the ice cracks, a light will come on and Excalibur will basically light up the arena.”
But until then, there’s much chopping to be done.
The scene and heard
Veteran talk-show host Mitch Moss of ESPN 1100 has been in talks with the Vegas Stats & Information Network. Moss has teamed up with former University of Colorado football star Mike Pritchard on “Mitch & Pritch” on ESPN 1100 since 2013. He joined ESPN 1100 in 2001 as a producer and later served as a host on the station's “Gridlock” show.
On this day…
April 12, 1987: After a concert in Las Vegas, U2’s Bono and The Edge strut down Fremont Street, playing, singing and hugging passers-by as they film the video for “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.”
April 13, 2007: Cocktail waitress Jaimee Grubbs, out with friends at the Bellagio’s Light nightclub, meets Tiger Woods. She says they begin an affair that lasts until Tiger’s notorious 2009 car crash and revelations of his serial cheating. She proves her claim by releasing scores of text messages from the golfer.
At Rehab Beach Club on Sunday at the Hard Rock Hotel: Rob Gronkowski of the New England Patriots, with pro wrestler Mojo Rawley. Also there: DJ Whoo Kid, celebrating a friend’s wedding. Also there: DJ Whoo Kid and “WAGS” TV star and former pro wrestler Barbie Blank Souray. On Saturday: pop star Austin Mahone, celebrating his 21st birthday with champagne showers and cake. Also there: “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise” star Josh Murray and pro dancer Willie Gomez.
The punch line
“Caitlyn Jenner told Diane Sawyer she is writing her autobiography. I think that’s going to be one of those ‘he said, she said’ deals.” – Late-night host Jimmy Fallon.