The NHL has confirmed its intent to hold the 2024 Draft at the Sphere, becoming the latest sports entity to embrace the next-generation venue in Las Vegas.
The league has not yet signed final contracts for the June 28-29 event, but commissioner Gary Bettman said the deal is a near-certainty.
“I think it’ll be a pretty well-viewed event, both in terms of the draft itself and the viral use of the Sphere inside and outside,” Bettman said. “So we think it’ll be dramatic and compelling.”
With the late-June timing, the NHL essentially jumps the line and becomes the first major sporting event held entirely at the Sphere, ahead of the UFC, which will stage a fight there in September 2024. (Formula 1 did incorporate the Sphere into its recent Las Vegas Grand Prix, both visually and as a hospitality area.)
Since its opening in September, with a run of concerts by U2, the Sphere has captivated many across the business of sports — even though the venue wasn’t designed with sports in mind.
“The Sphere is a spectacular property, so I think both for the Sphere and for us this will be a good event to show yet another capability of this magnificent theater,” Bettman said.
Last Of An Era
The 2024 NHL Draft will also be the last before the league shifts to a decentralized model where teams’ general managers and scouts stay in their home markets, similar to that in other major sports leagues.
For years, the NHL Draft has served as a key offseason convention within the sport, often drawing a level of media coverage that doesn’t exist during the season. But logistical and cost concerns among teams prompted the shift.