In August 1996, The Cure played at the Thomas & Mack Center. That was the Swing Tour, during which frontman Robert Smith routinely showed up on stage wearing NHL jerseys; a quick Google image search brings up ol’ Papa Goth repping the Canucks, the Islanders, the Maple Leafs. You’ll also find a photo of Smith wearing the jersey of the Las Vegas Thunder, our long-defunct IHL team, onstage at the T&M. I remember it as being a kind of weird moment: Smith showing up on stage wearing the jersey of a minor-league team in which only a small number of us felt any personal investment. Before singing a note, Smith had hit Vegas with the proverbial “deep cut.”
Anyway, 21 years later, Las Vegas finally has an NHL team. And the Vegas Golden Knights’ official merch store, The Armory, is now open at T-Mobile Arena (10 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week). If Smith were to come to Vegas tomorrow, he could appoint himself in Golden Knights t-shirts, jackets, hats, thermal vests and so on. (No jerseys just yet, though a limited number of them are now available for presale at The Armory and here.) More importantly, if you want to start repping Vegas’ first professional sports franchise, you can start doing so today, right now, hours before they draft their full roster.
I’ll be curious to see, in the weeks and months ahead, how much Golden Knights swag makes its way out into the wild. While the town is no stranger to pro sports apparel, this marks the first time we’ve had our own to wear. (Collegiate sport gear is another animal, of course—and I tip my proverbial hat to anyone wearing their Runnin’ Rebel gear right now.) Beginning now, local Vegas can demonstrate just how excited it is for its first big deal sports franchise in the way we express our enthusiasm for all things: by throwing our disposable income at it.
That enthusiasm comes at a bit of a premium. Maybe it’s because I’ve never really shopped for this stuff before, but I got minor sticker-shock from looking through the Golden Knights’ merch: I didn’t see an adult T-shirt that cost less than $45 or a hat that cost less than $30. Some cost discrepancies were genuinely baffling: A souvenir puck costs $8 unless you get it in a plastic box that says “My First Puck”—then it’s $25. They’ve got $5 banners (that’s about right) and $85 polo shirts. You’ll walk out of The Armory with something, but whether that’s a $25 license plate frame or a $200 authentic Adidas team jersey is hard for me to predict until we actually form a team and start winning games.
The stuff looks great, though. As straight-up Vegas souvenirs, the Golden Knights stuff should prove tremendously popular. (Proof: I wasn’t 10 feet out of the store when a passerby spotted the swag bag given to me and inquired: “Where’d you get the Golden Knights merch?”) And I like the team’s secondary logo, a four-pointed starburst crisscrossed by swords, though it strongly reminds me of the starburst/cross symbol of the Church of Scientology. I’ll just leave that one there.
The takeaway is that Vegas now has another form of city identity. Pro team spirit is now a tangible thing; you can head down to The Armory and procure it by the bagload. And I know that for those of us who’ve waited a long time for Vegas-grown pro swag, the day that Golden Knights jersey arrives may be just like heaven.