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ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers to play home games next season on roof of casino

Sean Leahy
Puck Daddy

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When Boyd Gaming declined to renew the ECHL's Las Vegas Wranglers' lease at the Orleans Arena, their future was in jeopardy. But a unique idea from team president Billy Johnson -- something the Wranglers are known for, with their various game promotions -- led to the franchise staying in town for at least the next five years.

Beginning in November, the Wranglers will play their home games on the roof of the Plaza Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Yes, the roof. A $4 million investment will fund a 45,000 square foot fabric-shell structure that will seat 3,500 fans.

Formerly used for parking, the rink will be privately funded and take about five months to build.

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Under the deal, the Plaza will convert the fifth floor of its south tower for locker rooms, medical space and bathrooms, Johnson said. He noted that visiting hockey teams and their fans can stay at the Plaza.

The Wranglers will generate revenue from ticket sales, while the team and the hotel-casino will split food and beverage revenue from operations run by the Plaza, Johnson said.

Johnson said the Wranglers expect to boost revenue by using the facility for public skating sessions, men’s hockey leagues and even concerts or conventions. But the team’s 36-game home season must be able to financially support the new facility, he said.

“We’re not counting on outside revenue for viability of the project,” Johnson said.

Since you never sleep when you go to Vegas, the Wranglers' annual "Midnight Game" might expand to more than once a season with gaming just a few floors away from the rink.

Also, visiting teams and fans will stay at the Plaza, which will probably mean a bit of extra cash pumped into the casino, and a few extra wins for the Wranglers against sluggish, partied-out teams.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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