SBD/Issue 177/Franchises

David Bonderman To Be Equal Partner If Vegas Gets NHL Team

(L-R) David Bonderman, Chair
of Texas Pacific, and Harry E. Sloan,
David Bonderman, a founding partner of Ft. Worth-based private equity firm TPG, would join MGM Studios Inc. Chair and CEO Harry Evans Sloan and producer Jerry Bruckheimer as equal partners if they are able to secure an NHL team for Las Vegas, sources said. Bonderman was named to Forbes’ Midas List, a list of the top dealmakers and venture capitalists in '06. TPG is an owner of the MGM Studios. In December, TPG and Apollo Management announced a deal to acquire Las Vegas-based Harrah’s Entertainment for $17B. Owen Blicksilver, a spokesman for Bonderman, would not comment. The NHL, meanwhile, did not respond to requests for comment on whether the league has held discussions with Bonderman and Sloan to own an NHL franchise in Las Vegas. Earlier this week, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in an e-mail, "Bruckheimer is one of many people we have spoken to about their desire to own a team in Vegas." Bruckheimer has had meetings with NHL officials over the last year and media outlets have reported the meetings have been about Bruckheimer offering advice on how to better market the game." Sources said that the primary focus of the meetings was Bruckheimer’s interest in owning a team, not marketing. In an e-mail Thursday, NHL Senior VP/Communications Bernadette Mansur said information that the meetings were primarily about Bruckheimer’s ownership interests and not marketing “is entirely incorrect" (Liz Mullen, SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL).

NHL Confirms Bruckheimer's
Interest In Owning Team
ARENA NEEDED: Daly said for the league to "ever have a franchise in Las Vegas, they’d have to build a new state-of-the-art arena in Las Vegas. We’re talking a couple years away, minimum.” Daly: “This is not just about Las Vegas. There’s been an expression of interest from a number of individuals and entities in a number of different markets." Daly admitted there are “issues, with respect to gaming, the [NHL] would have to address” (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 6/8).

VEGAS A BAD BET: In Toronto, Rick Westhead writes, “Putting a team in Las Vegas could be disastrous five years on.” The city is the 51st-ranked media market in the U.S. and it is “not the burgeoning market some say it is.” Westhead: “Many Las Vegans are low-income employees ... who would probably find it impossible to attend many NHL games even if they were so inclined” (TORONTO STAR, 6/8).

K.C. REACTION: K.C. has also been mentioned as an expansion candidate, and William Del Biaggio III, who has a deal to operate an NHL team at Sprint Center, said, “That’s good news. It seems to make sense to me because we’re the only other city that has an arena.” He added, “It’s really good news for the NHL if Jerry Bruckheimer was an owner.” Chicago-based The Leib Group Senior Consultant David Stone said, “If it’s a horse race between Kansas City and Las Vegas, as of today, Kansas City has a big advantage. They have the arena” (K.C. STAR, 6/8).

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