William Foley, the chairman of title insurer Fidelity National Financial (FNF), is rumored to be the leader of an ownership group of a new National Hockey League franchise in Las Vegas, Nevada, if the league chooses to expand in the near future.
Multiple reports, including The Hockey News and Yahoo!, list Foley as the lead of an ownership group that would also include the Maloof family, who own several Las Vegas hotels and formerly owned the National Basketball Association’s Sacramento Kings.
According to the reports, the NHL Board of Governors approved the group led by Foley and the Maloofs as owners of a prospective NHL team in Las Vegas, although NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly denied that discussions have even reached that level.
From The Hockey News report:
“There was virtually no discussion about Las Vegas (or expansion for that matter) at the last Board meeting,” Daly wrote in his email. “Far from a ‘done deal.’ Still have to deal with the foundational question of whether we want to expand at all and if so how do we want to do it. And that hasn’t really been broached with the BOG yet. After that, we will have to tackle whether Las Vegas is the right market, and specifically, whether we think it can support an NHL franchise long term. I think more work needs to be done on that issue as well.”
Despite that denial, Hockey News Senior Writer Ken Campbell reports that a source close to the NHL Board of Governors told him that the Las Vegas team would begin play in the 2017-2018 season.
Campbell also said that an ownership group led by Foley would be very interesting to the NHL. From the Hockey News report:
We do know there is an ownership (group) led by Foley that has significantly deep pockets. That checks off one box for the NHL. We also know that an arena is being built. That checks off another box. All the league now has to do is be convinced that Las Vegas is a viable market and it looks like it is well on the way to making that determination right now.
A report in the New York Post said that Foley is “the real deal” when it comes to his potential as a team owner because he has “deep pockets.”
Foley is referred to as a multi-billionaire in several of the articles about his rumored interest in being an NHL owner.
Considering the performance of Fidelity National in the third quarter, in which the company reported total revenue of approximately $1.7 billion in the third quarter of 2014, the depth of Foley’s pockets is probably not a concern.
When contacted by HousingWire about Foley’s rumored involvement, a Fidelity National spokesperson said that the company could not confirm anything regarding Foley’s potential involvement.
But if the rumors do indeed prove true and Foley becomes an NHL team owner, he’ll become the latest in the housing finance world to become a professional sports team owner.
Arthur Blank, the owner of the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons, made his billions as the founder of Home Depot (HD).
Quicken Loans founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert is also the owner of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.
Quicken Loans is a prolific advertiser throughout the sports world, sponsoring a NASCAR race team, the PGA Tour and is the named sponsor of Quicken Loans Arena, where Gilbert’s Cavaliers play.
Obviously there are many more machinations that would have to be sorted out before Foley becomes an owner, not the least of which is that the NHL may not expand at all. But if the reports are to be believed, the possibility of William Foley as NHL owner is far from remote.
According to a report in the Las Vegas Sun from Robin Leach (yes, that Robin Leach), the Las Vegas team would play at the new MGM Resorts/AEG stadium being built behind the New York-New York and Monte Carlo hotels.
When the stadium opens next year, will it be called Fidelity National Arena?
Or, more importantly, what might Foley name the team?
Please leave suggestions in the comments section below.