Forbes editor on Golden Knights’ valuation: ‘They’re not a Carolina, Florida or Arizona’

Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau

Fans have their photo taken in front of an oversized hockey sweater during a Vegas Golden Knights Stick Salute to Vegas fan appreciation rally at the Fremont Street Experience Wednesday, June 13, 2018.

"Stick Salute to Vegas and Our Fans"

Vegas Golden Knights players, from left, Brayden McNabb (3), Jon Merrill (15), James Neal (18), Malcolm Subban (30), Reilly Smith (19), Cody Eakin (21), Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (41), Erik Haula (56), Nate Schmidt (88) and Alex Tuch (89), hold up hockey sticks during the team's Launch slideshow »

The Vegas Golden Knights’ improbable run to the Stanley Cup Final will likely give the team a financial boost.

The Golden Knights entered their inaugural season as the 14th most valuable NHL franchise, according to Forbes, but should move up in the rankings when they’re released in the fall.

Forbes executive editor Michael Ozanian, who created the publication’s sports-team valuation lists, couldn’t give specifics of the team’s trajectory, because he hasn’t yet compiled all the data that goes into the ranking. He cautioned it wouldn’t be a significant jump, however, as that’s only caused by long-term success.

“Value is mostly based on sustained revenue,” Ozanian said. “So, playoffs help value if consistent. They can charge higher prices for suites and sponsorships when those are up for renegotiating.”

Four teams — the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks — were valued at more than $1 billion coming into this season.

The Golden Knights got off to a quick start in perhaps someday joining that fraternity. They won eight of their first nine games to set an NHL expansion record, getting fans to jump on board immediately.

“Vegas has shown in their first year that they’re not going to be a problem to the NHL out of the gate,” Ozanian said. “They’re most likely going to be a success. They’re not a Carolina, Florida or Arizona.”

The Florida Panthers and Arizona Coyotes were at the bottom of Forbes’ 2017 valuations, at $305 million and $300 million, respectively.

A group headed by majority owner Bill Foley — which also includes the Maloof family — paid $500 million for the Golden Knights to enter the league. Foley put up 70 percent of the expansion fee.

Vegas was 17th in NHL home attendance, but only because other teams’ arenas fit more people. The Golden Knights attracted 18,042 fans per game at T-Mobile Arena with a total attendance of 739,740 throughout the season, according to ESPN.

“There is a healthy demand for tickets to Vegas Golden Knights home games at T-Mobile Arena,” said Kerry Bubolz, Golden Knights president. “The demand is not just limited to Golden Knights full- and partial-season ticket members, as seats have been sold on the secondary market at some of the highest prices registered in NHL history. When determining our pricing and ticket concepts, our primary objective is to reward our most passionate fans who have been incredible supporters of our team from the start with preferred pricing.”

Capacity-wise, the Golden Knights ranked fourth in the NHL. They drew a 103.9 percent capacity, as T-Mobile Arena sits 17,500 fans but also offers standing room-only tickets.

The teams ahead of Vegas were Chicago (109.8 percent), Minnesota (106) and Washington (104).

The numbers spiked during the Knights’ playoff run, as average attendance during the playoffs at T-Mobile Arena was 18,586, which was 107 percent of capacity, according to the team. Bubolz credits it not only to the play on the ice, but the spectacle before games and interactions with fans during games.

“This was the case in the playoffs with our Knights Vow program, which provided our most loyal fans significant savings off the single-game ticket price,” Bubolz said. “In addition to an exciting on-ice product, we have made substantial investments in our game presentation and in-arena entertainment to provide a unique, energetic experience that adds additional value to all fans in attendance.”