Why owning the Ottawa Senators is a hot ticket for celebrities

From left to right, The Weeknd, Snoop Dogg and Ryan Reynolds are all reportedly joining three separate bids to own the Ottawa Senators. (Getty Images - image credit)

Ryan Reynolds, Snoop Dogg and reportedly The Weeknd have created a star-powered bidding war in a quest to own the Ottawa Senators.

First, Canadian-born Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds made his interest widely known.

In the past week the music industry has jumped in with two recent Super Bowl performers: legendary rapper Snoop Dogg has joined one bid and Canadian recording artist The Weeknd reportedly joining another based on a report from Postmedia on Saturday.

Ottawa is not known for attracting entertainment star power. The spouses of two former Senators are likely the most famous to have been connected to the team — Mike Fisher's wife Carrie Underwood and Dion Phaneuf's wife Elisha Cuthbert.

Hilary Duff was also dating Mike Comrie when he played for Ottawa in the late 2000s.

The sudden interest is more a positive sign for the NHL, commissioner Gary Bettman told The Bob McCown Podcast last week.

"I actually think our franchises are going to become increasingly more valuable than they are now," he said, adding they have been undervalued up until this point.

"It should tell all the fans in Ottawa that this franchise is gonna have a very bright future right there in Ottawa … the nation's capital is generating a tremendous amount of interest for a prospective NHL owner."

The NHL does maintain it wants the process of the sale to remain out of the public eye to ensure fairness.

WATCH | Snoop Dogg tells ESPN about his interest in the Sens:

Not really about Ottawa

Not to burst the balloons of fans who believe their team has become the centrepiece of a celebrity bidding war, but at least one expert says it's not really about the city at all.

"They're not actually interested in the Ottawa Senators. They're interested in owning a professional sports franchise," said Concordia University economics professor Moshe Lander.

There are only 124 professional sports teams across the four major sports leagues in North America, which don't come up for sale very often, Lander said.

"If you're going to get involved, you got to do it when you can," he explained.

The teams, while extremely expensive, "show huge appreciation and value in a very short amount of time," said Lander, making it a great return on investment, even if it's only a small percentage of ownership.

WATCH | Ryan Reynolds talks about wanting a piece of the team:

There are other benefits, too.

Reynolds bought the floundering but historic Wrexham Association Football Club in 2021 with fellow actor Rob McElhenney of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fame.

The documentary series about the Welsh football team, Welcome to Wrexham, is something Postmedia reports Reynolds would like to replicate with the Senators.

Owning an NHL team could also draw more attention to the "very, very competitive space" of social media, said Lander.

WATCH | Celebrity Sens bids not about the team, professor argues:

Regardless of who ends up with the successful bid, Ottawa will come out a winner, said Mayor Mark Sutcliffe.

"If the famous celebrities and entertainers see potential in Ottawa then it's incredibly validating," he told CBC.

"I think it's great in terms of the marketing of the city and it means Ottawa is being talked about internationally, and that there is huge potential here, so I think only good things can come from this."

The process of selling the team began in November, several months after the death of owner Eugene Melnyk. The new owners are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.