Last month, the NHL confirmed that it was reviewing an application from a group led by billionaire investor Bill Folley to bring a new hockey franchise to Las Vegas as early as the 2016-2017 season. The league is reviewing applications from the prospective franchise, along with a bid from Quebec City.
Daniel Negreanu, who has been a strong advocate for getting Las Vegas its first major sports franchise franchise and driving ticket sales, gives the chance of Las Vegas being approved for the team at 99.9%. When that happens, he told the Toronto Sun he wishes to buy-in for a piece of the team.
Quite possibly the most beloved poker player in the world, Negreanu, a Canadian, is also a huge hockey fan and Toronto Maple Leafs diehard since childhood. His fandom is driving him in his efforts, which has seen him become one of the faces of the franchise push. Could part owner be in Negreanu’s future if his prediction comes true?
“The idea of owning a piece of an NHL team is the coolest thing ever.” Negreanu told the Toronto Sun. “I’ll be at every game and maybe have a hockey talk show of my own. Right now, the focus is on getting the team.”
So what makes Negreanu so confident Las Vegas will bring a hockey team to the desert?
“Vegas has 2.2 million people. It’s a sports town. We’ve been starving for a professional franchise of any kind for many years.”
Negreanu can’t envision a scenario where it doesn’t happen. “We have a solid owner, an arena and we sold 13,000 season tickets.”
Of course, there is a reason Las Vegas does not yet have a professional sports team – it’s controversial, most notably because of the sports gambling in the city. But as Nate Silver of 538 says, there also may not enough NHL fans in the town to warrant the new franchise.
According to online reports, Daniel Negreanu’s net worth has been reported as high as $50 million. Negreanu has logged over $30 million in career tournament winnings since the late 90’s, including $15 million at the World Series of Poker, where he has earned 6 bracelets and 83 WSOP cashes.
Off the poker table but still in the poker world, Negreanu has over 369,000 Twitter followers, has been a part of many poker TV shows including Late Night Poker, High Stakes Poker and Poker After Dark. He also been a member of Team PokerStars since 2007.
Negreanu sees many similarities between poker and business where his skills are useful.
“Bluffing, reading your opponent, value betting, et cetera, are all traits that are used regularly in business deals. Think about it, when you are negotiating a price to buy a company, you have to figure out what the best price you can push for is. If you push too hard, you may lose a customer.”
Despite venturing outside of poker with the new label of prospective hockey tycoon, Negreanu is still very active as a poker player in the poker community. He regularly makes appearances in the Global Poker Index rankings, which ranks players by performance over the last three years.
And those results aside Negreanu succinctly said it best. “I’m still a poker player.”
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