Quite a ripple materialized in the NHL waters yesterday when The Province’s Tony Gallagher reported that expansion to Las Vegas is “a done deal.” From the article:
“Sources close to the situation have indicated Las Vegas is a done deal, the only thing to be determined being which owner will be entitled to proclaim that he brought the first major league sports franchise to Sin City.”
Gallagher is alone (at least for now) regarding the “done deal” bit, but a source—who wished to remain anonymous—has told The New York Rangers Blog that there is someone clearly leading the pack in this “Amazing Race” to bring a hockey team to Las Vegas: Jerry Bruckheimer.
Bruckheimer, 70, is the producer of the blockbuster movie series “Pirates of the Caribbean” as well as reality shows “The Amazing Race” and “CSI” TV franchise. He had been in discussions with the NHL well in the past regarding a Las Vegas expansion. Those talks eventually died off. But, as speculation regarding expansion has picked up, Bruckheimer and the NHL appear to be reunited in negotiations, the source said.
“Jerry has been talking to the NHL and promised that they can have X number of season tickets, etc.,” the source said. “The rumors have been going on for years. He’s been pushing a team since the late 2000s. The difference is now they’re building an arena.”
That arena, currently being prepared by MGM Resorts International and AEG Live, is being marketed as a multi-purpose facility, though the capacity for it housing enough seats to be NHL-compatible is still being accounted for.
Theoretically, anyone could negotiate to use the arena but Bruckheimer clearly has the inside track. Forbes reported Bruckheimer’s net worth at $850 million in 2010, but the source said that he’s more recently hovering around $1 billion in total liquid net worth. It’s also important to note that Bruckheimer has a close relationship with executives at MGM as well as AEG.
Both groups were part of the ownership group Bruckheimer was initially putting together last decade. His hockey connections only help his cause.
“He’s very well connected in Las Vegas and often comes to Vegas with hockey people,” the source said.
In fact, Bruckheimer was very recently in Las Vegas with his own group of friends socializing with Sin City business people as well as others associated with the NHL. While the source insisted that the visit itself had absolutely nothing to do with the NHL or any related business, Bruckheimer’s desire to bring an NHL team to Las Vegas and the steps he’s taking to make that happen were a common topic of discussion by Bruckheimer’s “inner circle.”
A final thought that I want to make clear is completely purely my own conjecture and is in no way based in any fact or information received from a source. Tim Leiweke, currently the President and CEO of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, recently announced that he will be leaving his position by June 30th or “until a successor is appointed” with the reported reason being him wanting a “new challenge.” Prior to joining MLSE, Leiweke was the President of AEG. Could that “new challenge” be helping to run an expansion franchise in Las Vegas that AEG would presumably have some sort of stake in?
Again, just a thought.
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