Daniel Negreanu is one of the world’s most successful poker players, but he’s also a Canadian.
That should mean that it’s no surprise that he’s also a huge hockey fan, often posting about the sport on social media and his personal blog.
Now, Negreanu is trying to involve himself in the sport by backing an effort to bring a National Hockey League (NHL) franchise to Las Vegas.
On Friday, Negreanu posted to Twitter to announce that he was excited to meet with a group that wanted to bring the face-paced ice sport to the desert oasis known for its gambling culture.
“Very excited about tonight, meeting with the new ownership group looking to bring an NHL team to Las Vegas,” Negreanu tweeted. “This is happening friends!”
Now, before you get excited about the prospect of Negreanu owning an NHL team, it’s unclear if he actually has a place in the ownership group, and even if he does, it’s likely to be a small one.
Negreanu has won nearly $30 million in live tournament play, and has likely won big in cash games as well, but the average value of an NHL franchise is nearly $500 million, which is just a little out of his price range.
That same day, Negreanu wrote a blog post on his website, Full Contact Poker, about some issues he felt could be fixed in the NHL.
After talking about problems with the unbalanced conferences and the potential for collusion, he turned his attention to a third point: the possibility of putting an NHL team in Las Vegas.
“I’m personally quite excited about the prospects of an NHL team in Las Vegas and I believe strongly that not only will we get a team, but that hockey will work in this sports starved city,” Negreanu wrote. “For many, they wonder how it makes sense to play ice hockey in the desert, but I’m sure the same was said years ago when expansion hit sunny California and that experiment has worked quite well with thriving franchises in LA, Anaheim, and San Jose.”
Negreanu cited the city’s population of 2.2 million as a selling point, but also found other reasons to support a Las Vegas bid. He noted that casinos would be likely to buy up high-value luxury boxes, and the city’s tourism draw would help as well.
“When Calgary comes to town, fans will come out for the game and use it as an excuse for a vacation,” Negreanu wrote. “Good for the local economy, and good for ticket sales.”
Kid Poker also admitted that there are a few arguments against Las Vegas that will have to be addressed.
There’s the fact that Las Vegas hasn’t proven itself as a hockey town, though as he notes, this was true of many expansion cities before they had teams.
Scheduling is also an issue, since many locals work night shifts. He also brought up questions of corruption because of the gambling culture in Las Vegas, though he quickly dismissed it, saying that “I think it’s about time we put this one to bed.”
The proposed ownership group for an NHL franchise in Las Vegas is led by businessman Bill Foley and the Maloof brothers, who formerly owned the NBA’s Sacramento Kings.
The group will be holding a ticket drive in February to better gauge fan support in the city.