Symbolic, Unique, Historic. Those are just a few adjectives that describe the bid to buy the Ottawa Senators NHL team.
Not only is there an eye-watering price reportedly attached to its purchase, there’s also the precedent and potential possibilities it affords if either of the bidding teams becomes the new owner.
In this piece, we’re going to take a brief look at the main players interested in the sale of the sports team, what they’re offering and why it needs an adjective to describe it.
Moreover, with the sums of money being discussed and the interest in owning the franchise, is there a bidding war looming on the horizon?
The interest in buying the Ottawa Senators begins with the passing of its former owner Eugene Melnyk back in March 2022.
The Canadian businessman had taken ownership after bailing the team out of bankruptcy in 2003. Senators would go on to take part in the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals and the Eastern Conference finals a decade later (2017).
In the November following Melnyk’s passing, the board of directors for Senator Sports and Entertainment, called in Galatioto Sports Partners to help them put the franchise up for sale.
At the time, the team had been valued at $655M USD according to the sports business publication Sportico. They added that there was ‘significant interest’ in buying the Senators.
Who are the bidding teams?
Ryan and Remington
There are reported to be a handful of ownership groups interested in buying the Ottawa Senators. At the time of writing (May 4th 2023) the Remington Group are the frontrunner.
While prominent real estate magnate Christopher Bratty, leads the Remington investment Group, much of its visibility and progress in securing the bid appears to come from the film actor and philanthropist Ryan Reynolds.
Reynolds has been very visible during the final weeks of the Regular Season and he was also reportedly having meetings with the Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe and the National Capital Commission about a new arena.
Further investment groups, among them local investors, have consulted with the team according to Bruce Garrioch of PostMedia. Remington have said they’d join the successful bid, Garrioch says.
Tech businessman and entrepreneur Neko Sparks is also preparing a bid for the Ottawa Senators. If successful in his bid, he would become part a very small group of Black Americans who own an NHL franchise.
His consortium of around 15 North American investors is itself made up mostly of people of colour (75%)
According to the Athletic, it’s made up of several prominent Canadian figures along with the rapper and social media icon, Snoop Dogg.
Sparks is likely leveraging the reputation and innovations his own technology firm Pixel Lime is developing with the Senators, to help boost his chances.
Other known suitors
Hamilton Bulldogs owner and Torontonian billionnaire Michael Andlauer, was also linked with a bid to buy and had even been considered a favourite from the moment the franchise was put up for sale.
Jeffrey Kimel of the Kimel Family also expressed an interest. The Kimel Family had a previous minority stake in the Pittsburgh Penguins.
There’s also apparent interest from Patrick Dovigi, a former goalie from the OHL and head of GFL, a waste disposal company.
Garrioch also reported that the Hamilton-based billionaire Angelo Paletta and family, was also joining the list of suitors along with investment bankers Galatioti Sports Partners of New York.
What are the bids?
For starters, the financial publication Forbes, last valued the club at $800M USD last December, $275M more than in 2021 ($525M).
The initial bids for the club are already approaching $1BN USD or more.
According to the Ottawa Sun (April 28 2023), the Remington Group are not messing around. They’re going to cough up over $1BN USD and are keen to close the deal as soon as possible.
That deal includes the purchase of the team and the Canadian Tire Centre, the Sens’ stadium.
The outlet also reports that the group are also interested in building a new one in the downtown area which will be accompanied with other entertainment outlets.
This complies with the wishes of the sellers who wanted the team to stay in Ottawa.
Neko Sparks and Co
So far, Neko Sparks’ consortium is understood to be bidding $950M USD. Much of what we gather about Neko Sparks’ bid comes from what his star power backers are saying.
The rapper and social media icon announced his decision to join Neko Sparks’ bid with the belief that it would be more community focused and help make the sport more accessible to minorities.
In his social media post on May 2nd, he told his 80M Instagram followers that it was, ‘Amazing what [Neko Sparks] is trying to do in Ottawa,
‘I’m looking forward to being a part of that ownership team. I WANNA BRING HOCKEY BACK TO OUR COMMUNITY.’
According to Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch, the final round of bidding will take place on May 15.
Some interesting questions
Should Ice Hockey to be more accessible to the community?
Will Ottawa Senators make the Playoffs again if it has Ryan Reynolds backing it?
Why are there not more people of colour involved in sports ownership or management?
Will there be a bidding war?