Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Save the Wranglers

Most people who know me are aware that I am a lifelong hockey fan. I was born and raised in Alaska where I often compare hockey’s popularity to football’s popularity in Texas. I am also a fan, season ticket holder and supporter of the Las Vegas Wranglers semi-pro hockey team (notwithstanding my continued support of my hometown team and Wranglers rival, the Alaska Aces). As many of you also know, the Las Vegas Wranglers are in trouble.

In late December of 2013 Boyd Gaming, owners of the Orleans Arena which has been the Wranglers home for eleven seasons, announced that they had failed to reach an agreement to extend the team’s contract for the 2014-2015 season. Representatives for the Wranglers claim that Boyd never entered into meaningful negotiations and that they simply refused to extend the contract or negotiate a new deal. Regardless, the failure to reach an agreement with the Orleans is a serious problem given the lack of suitable venues in the Las Vegas area.  Quite simply, there aren’t enough ice rinks in the valley capable of supporting a team like the Wranglers and its thousands of home game attendees. 

This dispute is a much bigger problem than simply losing their venue. The East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), in which the Wranglers play, requires that the teams have a contract with a home venue by no later than January 20, 2014. If the Wranglers fail to secure a contract with a local venue that is suitable for a team of their size the team will not be able to play in the ECHL next year, effectively killing the team in Las Vegas. The team will either be forced to move to a new city or fold. Clearly this is a serious problem for the Wranglers, its fans, employees and their families.

Losing the Wranglers will be a significant loss for our community. The Wranglers provide the only opportunity for fans to watch live professional hockey in Las Vegas. Many of these fans have been season ticket holders with the team for years and dozens of local businesses (including my own) have longstanding advertising agreements with the team. Losing the Wranglers will end those relationships and business that they bring in, not to mention the personal relationships between the fans. For me losing the team means losing an opportunity to share a part of my childhood with my children. I grew up watching the University of Alaska Anchorage hockey team and later the Anchorage Aces. Since moving to Vegas I have enjoyed taking my kids to Wranglers games and seeing them get excited about hockey just like I did. Losing the team will mean losing my opportunity to share that part of my childhood with my children and I assume I am certainly not alone in that loss.

Unfortunately, business disputes such as this are all too common. A large portion of my law practice is dedicated to resolving businesses disputes in Nevada including contract negotiations, commercial lease disputes and even complex litigation. I am hopeful that parties in the dispute are able to reach an agreement soon before the fans end up paying the price.

Fortunately all is not lost. Fans and supporters of the team have joined together on social media networks in an effort to save the Wranglers. The only way venues such as the MGM Garden arena, the Thomas & Mack Center (and maybe even the Orleans) are going to consider giving a contract to the Wranglers is if we show them what the team is worth If you would like to voice your support for the Wranglers, you can start by liking the Save the Wranglers Facebook page (7,500+ likes already).

Connor & Connor Pllc is a civil litigation firm and a proud supporter of the Las Vegas Wranglers. If you have questions, please call our office at (702) 750-9139.

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