It’s been twenty years since the late Eugene Melnyk purchased the Ottawa Senators. At the time, the Senators were in poor financial shape and Melnyk ended up being the only serious bidder.
Now, two decades later, there appears to be no shortage of interest in the franchise, and the daily updates on the process can be found just as easily on the entertainment page as the sports section.
Actor Ryan Reynolds has been in on this almost from day one, when Anna and Olivia Melnyk put the team up for sale in November. Reynolds is partnering with a consortium led by Toronto-based real estate developer The Remington Group and most see that group as the front runner, due in large part to Reynolds’ popularity, social media following, and promotional moxy. The template the actor set with his pro soccer team and its TV show, “Welcome to Wrexham” seems like a selling point the NHL would find irresistible.
The fact that the group is willing to go to a $1 billion to buy the franchise, as Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch reported last week, probably doesn’t hurt their cause.
But now a rival bidder, which isn’t scared off by that price tag, is loading up on its own celebrity clout. Los Angeles-based film producer and entrepreneur Neko Sparks was already rumoured to have a couple of celebrities on board. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has been one of the names making the rounds.
And this morning, iconic hip-hop artist Snoop Dog confirmed on Instagram he’s also in the Sparks’ ownership mix.
“Amazing what Neko Sparks is trying to do in Ottawa,” Snoop Dog posted. ”I’m looking forward to being a part of that ownership team. I WANNA BRING HOCKEY TO OUR COMMUNITY.”
Ian Mendes, who was first to report the news in The Athletic, also reported the hip-hop artist even has some interest in providing TV commentary during games. Here’s a little sampling of how that might sound, as Snoop made a CBC appearance during the 2007 Cup Final in between the Senators and Anaheim Ducks.
Last month, Sparks told CTV Ottawa his team also has some hockey-related experience to complement its celebrity content, including former L.A. Kings captain Mattias Norström and former New Jersey Devils chief marketing officer Daniel Cherry.
Final bids for the Senators are reportedly due in two weeks.