By ALAN SNEL
Golden Knights hockey. Abandoned Pomeranians. Christmas a week away.
Combine all three and you have sports marketing gold.
Every Las Vegas media outlet was in the house at City National Arena in Summerlin, the headquarters and two-rink practice facility for one of NHL’s hottest properties — the Vegas Golden Knights.
Someone at the Golden Knights contacted the Animal Foundation, which was holding 164 abandoned Pomeranian dogs left in a U-Haul truck without food or water south of Las Vegas near the California border.
The Golden Knights worked with the Animal Foundation Monday to kick off the adoption process.
Literally hundreds of Pomeranian lovers came to City National Arena to participate in an auction for five of the dogs and submit $200 entries in a contest for another 10 of the Poms.
It was a busy lobby in the arena — all unfolding a mere week before Christmas.
“The team came to us and their objective is to raise awareness about the journey of these dogs,” said Daniel Neel, Animal Foundation chief finance and development officer. “We did expect the interest to be huge. We’ve had thousands of inquiries.”
Neel explained that people who don’t get one of the 164 Pomeranians are eligible to adopt one of the 800-1,000 animals the Foundation has. He said the Foundation takes in 80 dogs a day.
But not everyone was pleased by the scene. A woman who said she was a pom rescue volunteer and noted she was blackballed by the Animal Foundation said the team and the Foundation were exploiting the Pomeranian dogs for marketing and money raising purposes.
“They’re displaying the dogs like a freak show,” the woman told LVSportsBiz.com.
But Neel said he hopes people who do not adopt one of the Pomeranians will eventually take home another breed. He said every dollar raised through the $200 entry fees to adopt a Pomeranian goes into the Foundation’s life saving program. And the $200 fee can be used to adopt another type of dog, Neel said.
The Golden Knights are a fascinating brand of team because their owner is Bill Foley, a non-Las Vegan who moved his multi-faceted business operation from Jacksonville, Fla. to Summerlin. Foley is best known for his property title insurance business, but he also has a multi-brand restaurant operation based in Montana and wineries in California.
The first-year club owned by winery owner Foley is offering an exclusive and inaugural Vegas Golden Knights private label wine. There’s a limited run with season ticket holders drawing the first chance to buy, according to a tweet from Chief Marketing Officer Brian Killingsworth.
Foley’s Glacier Restaurant Group also includes six brands and concepts, including McKenzie River Pizza, which is the tavern and sports bar eatery inside City National Arena between the two practice rinks.
A source told LVSportsBiz.com that Foley is looking at opening a second McKenzie River Pizza in the Las Vegas market. A possible location would be in the IKEA area off the 215 beltway in the southwest valley. But the exact site is still to be determined.
Follow LVSportsBiz.com on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Contact LVSportsBiz.com founder/writer Alan Snel at asnel@LVSportsBiz.com