Las Vegas is no longer the largest population center in the U.S. without a major professional sports team. On June 22, 2016 the city, which had nearly 2.2 million people in the 2010 census, was officially awarded an NHL franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, who take to the ice in October at the new $375 million, 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena, which opened this past April just off the Las Vegas Strip.

The 650,000-square-foot T-Mobile Arena is a privately financed joint venture between Anschutz Entertainment Group (the owners of the Los Angeles Kings) and MGM Resorts International and features world-class events including UFC, boxing, basketball, bull riding, high-profile award shows and top-name concerts, in addition to hockey, debuting for the 2017-2018 season.

The Vegas Golden Knights franchise is the first NHL expansion team since the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild came into the league in the 2000-2001 season, and will be the NHL’s 31st team. While other cities, such as Quebec City, were also considered for the new NHL franchise, the opening of the NHL-ready T-Mobile Arena appeared to be a major factor in clinching the deal for Las Vegas, according to Boston Bruins owner and NHL Board of Governors Chairman Jeremy Jacobs, who told the Las Vegas Sun, “T-Mobile Arena was built to showcase hockey at its very best.”

The arena will potentially increase economic impact for Las Vegas. MGM’s senior vice president of entertainment, Rick Arpin, said in an article in the Las Vegas Review Journal that T-Mobile Arena could boost the number of local market visitors by 500,000 people per year.

In 2015, Las Vegas hit a new record with 42.3 million visitors, and it hosted 21,000 conventions, up 13 percent from 2014. Conventions bring in millions for the city; the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority estimated that the overall non-gaming economic impact of The PPAI Expo 2016 was $19,481,000.