It looks like Ryan Reynolds isn’t the only A-list celebrity with an eye on buying the Ottawa Senators.
The Athletic learned that Snoop Dogg has aligned himself with the bid led by Los Angeles-based businessman Neko Sparks.
Sources with knowledge of the Sparks bid — but not authorized to speak publicly on the matter — confirmed that the iconic hip-hop artist has joined forces with Sparks in an aggressive pursuit of the Ottawa Senators franchise.
“He is passionately involved. He creates ideas. And he’s legitimately excited,” said the source of Snoop’s involvement. “He loves this team.”
Multiple sources said the Sparks group isn’t intimidated by the idea of a final sale price for the NHL franchise exceeding $1 billion (US), although it’s unclear how much of a financial stake Snoop has placed in the group . A source confirmed that Snoop is part of a consortium of owners as the Sparks set their sights on leading the most diverse ownership group the NHL has ever seen. The consortium includes more than a dozen investors, with the majority of the ownership group comprised of people of color.
Snoop entering the conversation about the Senators’ ownership situation is certainly an intriguing plot twist in the final stages of the process. The next round of bids for the hockey team is set in two weeks and this news could inject a level of credibility and familiarity into the Sparks group, which has been largely shrouded in anonymity until now.
Snoop has been a dynamic force in the music and entertainment industry for three decades and comes to the table with a massive social media footprint, including more than 100 million combined followers on Instagram (80.1 million) and Twitter (20.9 million ). Snoop performed at the Super Bowl LVI halftime show at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles in 2022, along with Dr. Dre, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar.
There is a belief that Snoop can use his connections to potentially attract other investors — and celebrities — to the Senators fold. And the 51-year-old looks strong in using his celebrity power and status to amplify and grow the Ottawa Senators brand.
A source said Snoop has already begun planning how he can integrate himself into the franchise for the 2023-24 NHL season if the Sparks group emerges as the successful bidder. Snoop plans to attend a few Senators home games at the Canadian Tire Center and will likely join the TSN booth to provide some analysis and commentary for Ottawa regional television broadcasts — similar to what he did with the Los Angeles Kings in the past.
But in particular, sources say Snoop is intrigued by the possibility of growing and marketing hockey to families from different backgrounds in the Ottawa area — and beyond — that the sport hasn’t always targeted in past
“He’s passionate about trying to make this game affordable for visible minorities and kids in low-income areas who haven’t played hockey in the past,” a source said. “He wants to be community oriented.”
He will create a similar template in the hockey world that he used to launch the Snoop Football League in 2005 — which is the mandate of the league to “provide an opportunity for young people, regardless of race, color, creed, or economic background to learn the values of character, integrity, discipline, and teamwork through football and cheer.” The youth football league was profiled in an eight-episode Netflix documentary titled “Coach Snoop” in 2018.
In addition to his career as an entertainer, Snoop has also carved a niche as an aggressive businessman. He is a cofounder of Case Verde Capital, one of the first cannabis-focused investment firms in the world. Last year, he bought the Death Row Records label, which was the label for his own debut album in 1993. He also partnered with the ’19 crimes’ wine label to launch Snoop Cali Red wine in 2020, in addition to launching his own brand of gin under his Indoggo label. In addition to several other ventures, Snoop also helped create an animated television series called “Doggyland,” where the goal was to develop educational content for children centered around music.
Over the years, Snoop has also emphatically shown his support for hockey.
In the 1994 music video for “Gin and Juice” — one of the defining moments of his early career — Snoop wore a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey. In a story in 2021 at The Athletic regarding retro Penguins jerseys, Snoop found out that many fans in Pittsburgh still refer to that version of the Penguins sweater as the “Gin and Juice” jersey.
“That’s big. It’s an honor to hear that considering legends like Lemieux and Jagr rocked that jersey,” Snoop said. The Athletic by e-mail in December of 2021.
Snoop also worked with the NHL to help grow the sport to a new audience. In 2018, he released a weekly video series on NHL.com where he dubbed himself “Dogg Cherry” and explained some of the nuances and history of the sport to a fresh crowd. The following year, EA Sports added Snoop as a commentator and playable character in its updated version of NHL ’20.
And there’s even a small connection between Snoop and the Ottawa Senators.
Before the 2007 Stanley Cup Final between Ottawa and Anaheim, Senators netminder Ray Emery presented Snoop with a Senators jersey. In an unforgettable interview on Hockey Night in Canada during that 2007 series between the Senators and Ducks, Snoop told CBC that he couldn’t wear Emery’s Senators jersey inside the Honda Center because the Anaheim fans would “barbeque” him.
When The Athletic first reported on the Sparks-led bid in early January, a source indicated that they would eventually introduce a major celebrity from the entertainment world as part of their roster.
“One of the main partners is a major force in the music industry. He has worked with everybody from Jay Z to The Weeknd to Drake,” the source said on January 6. “They have relationships with high-profile individuals. visibility that can be an ambassador for the team.”
Snoop certainly checks those boxes and could help the Sparks team generate revenue for a downtown arena by attracting concerts, festivals and other events using Snoop’s connections in the industry of entertainment. One of the goals of the Sparks group is to figure out ways to monetize the arena as an entertainment venue on the 300 nights when the Senators aren’t playing an NHL game.
In February, The Athletic Adidas executive Daniel Cherry is reportedly part of the investment team at the Sparks group.
Former NHL defensemen Mattias Norstrom and Trevor Daley also consult with the group from a hockey perspective. Given Norstrom’s past connections as a teammate of Daniel Alfredsson on the Swedish national teams, there is an expectation that the Sparks ownership group would be willing to leave a large role open for the Senators’ longtime captain in the hockey operations department if they take control. in the franchise.
Alfredsson, however, has not aligned himself with a bidder and would prefer to wait for this process to play out before making a commitment to any group.
(Photo: Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty Images)