Poker champ Daniel Negreanu: "NHL in Las Vegas is happening"
Daniel Negreanu is all in on NHL hockey in Las Vegas.
The poker Hall of Famer and lifelong hockey fan revealed on Twitter Friday afternoon that he had a meeting that night with the ownership group that's looking to land an expansion franchise for the city. And he sounds pretty stoked about the whole thing.
Very excited about tonight, meeting with the new ownership group looking to bring an NHL team to Las Vegas. This is happening friends!— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) January 16, 2015
Although Negreanu didn't reveal the context of the meeting, the possibilities for his involvement are endless. He's made decent coin playing cards through the years—nearly $30 million in live tournament winnings alone—so it's possible that he might be in for a small piece. But even if he was simply looking to promote the bid, as one of the best known players in the world he'd be a valuable ally.
Negreanu later posted a blog on fullcontactpoker.com talking about some of the finer aspects of expansion in the desert. Among his talking points:
"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. As mentioned previously, the NHL needs to add two teams to the Western Conference and it appears to me that Las Vegas and Seattle are both viable options and frontrunners for a team.
"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. San Jose in particular is an example of how well a team can do in a one-sport town. The Shark [Tank] is always sold out and the fans have really grown to love the game."
Negreanu believes that casinos would provide the corporate buy-in that fills the high-dollar seats and luxury boxes and thinks the team would be a huge draw for visiting fans. "Las Vegas is a vacation destination and unlike any other city in America. When Calgary comes to town, fans will come out for the game and use it as an excuse for a vacation. Good for the local economy, and good for ticket sales."
He also says that concerns about the lack of a pre-existing hockey culture hasn't hampered the sport in San Jose and Nashville. He also feels that concerns about gambling impacting the sport should be put to bed.
"Gambling is happening across the globe, both on the outcome of the games as well as daily fantasy sports. I would argue that game fixing is far LESS likely to occur in Las Vegas because there will be more eyeballs on those games. Besides, NHL players make more than enough money today so the temptation to risk that livelihood to take a dive is minimized. This is a non-issue as far as I'm concerned."