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"Dragon's Den" judge Wilson awaits entry into Preds' ownership group

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

CALGARY - Brett Wilson decides on a business deal in minutes on CBC's "Dragon's Den," but buying into the NHL's Nashville Predators has taken a lot longer.

The 52-year-old energy and budding sports mogul from North Battleford, Sask., is trying to secure a minority ownership stake in the Predators, currently grappling with the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of NHL playoffs, for over a year.

He says he's already been given the stamp of approval from the Predators, but the process of making the partnership official seems to be taking time.

Wilson is one of the Canadian businessmen on the television series "Dragon's Den?, where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch business concepts to people who have the money to make their ideas a reality. Wilson is one of the judges with the option of financially backing, or shooting down, the proposal.

Wilson lives in Calgary, and with the Flames finishing out of the playoffs he's cheering with his wallet and backing the Predators.

?The team that has my heart didn't make the playoffs. The team that has my wallet is still in,? Wilson said Tuesday prior to giving a speech to the Calgary Professional Association of Coaches. ?I have said it's going to be done in weeks several times over the last couple of years. I'm still on weeks.?

Wilson expects to acquire at least a portion of the quarter-stake in the team once held by William (Boots) Del Biaggio III. Del Biaggio pled guilty to one charge of forging financial documents to buy into the team and was sentenced to eight years in prison in September.

?That's the stake that's going to be re-worked. What I have when it's all done, who knows?? Wilson said. ?It's evolving as we sort out the Boots Del Biaggio fiasco. When that all gets resolved, everything gets resolved.

"Deals done, hands shaken, lawyers almost signing several times. It's kind of like that game Whac-A-Mole we used to play. You whack one and another pops up. It's just taken time, but don't sense any frustration on my part.

?It's still up to the league and the rest of the owners to approve whatever we do, but I'd bet on me. I'm a passionate fan of the Nashville Predators for good reason.?

Nashville majority owner David Freeman and Wilson are co-owners of both the English Champions League soccer team Derby County and a minor-league baseball team in Jackson, Tenn.

While officially joining the NHL's ownership ranks has taken some time, Wilson entered into a deal with the Predators in impulsive "Dragon's Den" fashion.

While in Nashville for an entertainment event, he'd brokered an agreement in principle with the team within 24 hours of discovering there was room in the hockey club's ownership group.

Wilson made his considerable fortune in the oil and gas industry and continues be a major player in Western Canada's business community.

The divorced father of three established the Wilson Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence at his alma mater, the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, and is involved in several philanthropic endeavours, including fundraising for prostate cancer which afflicted him in his 40s.

He would also be interested in being involved if Saskatoon acquired a Canadian Football League team, though he calls that a ?pie in the sky? idea at the moment.

?There's a few people who would like to see it happen,? Wilson said. ?I'm not going to be a catalyst, but I'm sure I'd be one of their first phone calls.

?If they can get a huge domed stadium, suddenly we can start to bring other sports and other entertainment into the city. That's going to be pretty exciting. There's a quarter of a million people in Saskatoon. There's probably another quarter of a million people within an hour or two hours of Saskatoon.?



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