American billionaire Bill Foley, with extensive New Zealand interests, paid US$500 million ($707.26 million) for a giant ice hockey deal in the US.

Foley has just won the franchise rights to bring the National Hockey League to Las Vegas, for the first time, in the 2017-18 season.

In New Zealand, Foley is the major shareholder in NZAX-listed Foley Family Wines which owns several vineyards in the Wairarapa and Marlborough. He also owns the Wairarapa's Wharekauhau Lodge, where the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stayed .

He is mainly based in Montana and California.


A New Zealand spokesman said the new hockey team would be the first major United States sports team to be based in Las Vegas.

Foley has already accepted more than 14,000 season ticket deposits and sold out all 44 suites in the 17,500-seat rink built by MGM Resorts International and Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Los Angeles Kings, one report said.

Las Vegas is the largest population centre in the United States without a hockey team.

Foley and his wife, Carol, stay at Wharekauhau when they visit New Zealand and have extensive vineyard interests in the US at Sonoma and Napa, including Chalk Hill where they are based for part of the year.

Foley will pay US$500 million to the NHL's other owners as an expansion fee and the new team will play in T-Mobile Arena, the US$375 million building that opened just off the Las Vegas Strip in April.

Foley expressed great enthusiasm for getting hockey to Las Vegas.

"We want everyone to be a fan. We're dedicated to it," he said.

"We'll leave no stone unturned in our dedication, in our pursuit of hockey for Las Vegas, not only for our team, but for the community."