In my 51 years of living in Las Vegas, it would be a definite understatement for me to say that I have grown cynical of promoters. Whether we’re talking about homebuilders or shuck-n-jive Johnny Come Lately-types representing a stage coach race near what is now The Smith Center (one of the city’s greatest creations), I have a line that says “The same hotshots who come to town drinking wine and smoking cigars in a Cadillac are the same folks who leave broke and battered in the back of a Greyhound bus.”
So when I heard Las Vegas was going to get a professional hockey team (and since then an NFL team has joined the rush), my eyes instantly rolled in what has become a matter-of-fact response. Things come and go on a daily basis and our city and county leaders have heard enough stories to fill books.
However, I like Bill Foley, whose National Hockey League team – the Vegas Golden Knights — has gone to town performing a class in Proper PR and Marketing 101. He’s down-to-earth, knowledgeable, and a gentleman whose soft-spoken demeanor represents a healthy and classy addition to a city that has been worn out by hustlers in cheap suits.
Foley’s hockey team has been complemented by a true commitment to Southern Nevada considering that a very classy training facility has been built in Summerlin, which will someday also be home to the Pacific Coast League’s Las Vegas 51s, which have been laboring away at Cashman Field since 1983.
But whereas Foley has reached into his own pockets to make the NHL a reality in Southern Nevada, the Las Vegas Raiders of the National Football League are counting on public funds to complete a stadium scheduled to be built at Russell Road and the I-15.
Meanwhile, the NFL is expected to move to Las Vegas in 2020 although there are some real questions about parking, traffic and the rest. The names of former NFL cities like San Diego and St. Louis are stark reminders that this endeavor could go sour after the initial enthusiasm wears off.
Foley, the diplomatic soul that he is, has not made a big deal out of the obvious difference between the $2 billion funding for the Raiders stadium; and the fact that he has spent millions to make the NHL a reality.
Foley’s efforts ring of the creation of Las Vegas Motor Speedway which opened in 1996 considering that the creation of the speedway was the result of deep-pocketed hotel owners Bill Bennett and Ralph Engelstad.
For the record, the track was estimated to be worth $200 million and as one the original employees said recently, “Ralph and Bill put up every penny for the building of the track.”
As so many others have discovered in Las Vegas, this city can clean your clock, if you’re not careful. The Vegas Grand Prix lasted one year in 2007, and according to sources, it cost the promoters millions to learn a very valuable lesson.
Bad timing was another factor in the demise of the Vegas Grand Prix and when promoters approached the City of Las Vegas about help for the 2008 event, the request was denied because the smart people knew a recession was right around the corner.
You see, the key to surviving Las Vegas is to (a) maintain a classy approach while also embracing the community, although for good reason, this city is cautious about new endeavors since so many of them shut down before their time.
This time we have a rock-solid individual who has helped take Las Vegas to another level with a professional operation rivaling LVMS and The Smith Center. In the process, the city has matured to yet another level.
The chairman of the board for Fidelity National and Black Knight Financial Services, Foley has the right formula and one look at the boards during practice shows prominent names supporting the team. He’s got the right formula and hockey fans who have been pleading for a team for the past several years are tickled to death to see what has transpired.
A multi-faceted individual, Foley also owns several other entities including Foley Family Wines and Foley Food & Wine Society.
With that in mind, we’ll all drink to what Foley has brought to Southern Nevada.