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The Golden Knights beat all the odds, heading to the playoffs in their very first season, but their fans believed in them all along.
When you step off the plane in Las Vegas, the first thing you see is a gift shop piled high with Golden Knights hats, hoodies and tees. As you hit the coffee shop, a neon sign sparkles, “Go Knights Go.” When you approach the taxi line, the cab hailer high-fives the cab driver saying, “Go Knights!” And this is all before you leave the airport.
To say the city’s locals are wild for their inaugural pro sports team–now defying all expectations to make the finals in their first year–is a woeful understatement. And while the frenzied fan excitement in T-Mobile Arena during Game 4 was off the hook, that same reverence has been building for months (some would say years), leading the Vegas Golden Knights to create 24-karat magic all through this historic first season. Here are five ways Vegas’ fans helped make the Knights’ first season Golden.
Vegas has waited decades for this. “I was born in Kenya, but I’ve lived in Vegas the past 21 years, and we’ve been dying for a pro team since I’ve been here,” explains aforementioned cabbie, Steve Kibuku. “Hockey is the only sport I watch. Plus, I’ve driven a bunch of hockey players, and they’re the nicest guys!”
Norm Nusbaum, cheering Game 4 with his wife MaryAnn Ferguson, expressed a similar sentiment. “We moved here from Chicago in 1989, and we’ve never seen anything like this. Chi-town’s a hockey town, but the atmosphere here is amazing. It’s what the people who live in the Vegas community needed.”
This city embraces individualists. This team of self-proclaimed “misfits” will go down as the most successful expansion team ever. “I think the ‘misfits’ moniker is something the players use internally as motivation,” said Paul James, a season-ticket holder who held an impressively-designed sign in support of star goalie Marc-André Fleury. “The Knights look at themselves as castoffs from their previous teams and there’s a commonality in that: ‘OK, they didn’t want us, but we’re in this together and we’ll be better than anyone thought.’”These fans put on the flare. Glance around the arena as the team’s drumline, appropriately named the Knight Line, bangs their way through the concession corridors accompanied by pom-pom waving cheerleaders chanting, and you’ll be nearly as dazzled by the brilliance of fans as the players. They’re decked. The consensus dress code for Knights games is very glitz, very glam, and very, very gold. Hey, it is Vegas, after all.They love showbiz sizzle on their ice. As NHL fan experiences go, a Golden Knights game has no match. The opening ceremony alone–which featured a Golden Knight slaying a fighter jet and the entire team skating out of a ginormous helmet while “The Imperial March” plays–has the production value of a Marvel action movie. Even the National Anthem is an experience (brace yourself when they get to “proof through the night”). The theme from “Knight Rider” (see what they did there?) played to roars, and at the game’s record-making end, “Viva Las Vegas” sent euphoric crowds on their way. This town loves a good time.
They’re ready for more! For the Vegas faithful, the birth of the Golden Knights marks only the start of the city becoming a pro sports mecca. The WNBA season just opened and the city now has its second pro franchise with the Las Vegas Aces, who play inside Mandalay Bay. For the first time, the NBA is also housing all 30 of its MGM Resorts NBA Summer League teams in Vegas for a 12-day season starting July 6. The NFL is moving in, too, with the Raiders and their $1.8 billion stadium slated for completion in 2020. This is clearly just the beginning.
Headed to Vegas for a game? These are the spots local fans love.
After a Golden Knights game…Go to The Cosmopolitan Race + Sports Book You’ve probably heard The Cosmopolitan’s brilliant slogan, “Just the right amount of wrong.” But this place is definitely just right. Adjacent to The Chandelier lounge in all its cascading crystal glory, the sports book welcomes with its rectangular bar and beyond accommodating service. You’ll find inviting leather banquets, high-top seating facing a first-rate LED wall projecting the action, foosball, pool and don’t get us started on the over-the-top enthusiasm surrounding the “plastic ponies.” And besides comfort seating, who doesn’t love the quintessential comfort food that is tater tots? Dusted with truffles or piled on your nachos, they’re a win no matter how your team fared.
After an Aces game…Go to Rí Rá at Mandalay Bay
It doesn’t get more authentic this side of the pond than this pub, restored in Ireland and shipped to its current home in The Shoppes at Mandalay Place. With the team playing in the same complex, you’ll receive 15% off food on game days if you wear an Aces jersey or present a ticket stub post game. From the Jameson whiskey glazed salmon to the Guinness stew, the food is dare we say, Aces. OK, we said it.
During MGM Resorts NBA Summer League…Go to Lagasse’s Stadium at The Palazzo
While Emeril is known to “kick it up a notch,” this is a cool place to beat the heat. With crisp white couches and stadium seating for optimal viewing, this restaurant/lounge/sports book is the perfect place to chill and watch the NBA’s next generation in action. And yes, the food is pretty great as well. Try the gumbo app.