BUSINESS

Bull! What Gretzky’s riding now.

COLIN CAMPBELL May 26 2008
BUSINESS

Bull! What Gretzky’s riding now.

COLIN CAMPBELL May 26 2008

Bull! What Gretzky’s riding now.

On skates, he was the Great One, but how will Wayne Gretzky fare with his latest interest: circuit bull riding?

Last week, Gretzky announced that he has invested in Professional Bull Riders Inc., an organization of 1,200 riders who compete in

more than 300 competitions around the world each year. It’s unlikely Gretzky will end up strapped to the back of Crooked Face, one of the circuit’s 2,000-lb. bulls—but if his past exploits in the business of pro sports are any measure, it could still be a bruising ride.

Gretzky, along with National Football League Hall of Famer John Elway, became part of PBR a year ago, when Spire Capital Partners—a private equity firm the two athletes each have a stake in—invested an estimated $100 million in the Colorado-based company. But Gretzky and Elway kept their personal investments (rumoured to be as much as $2 million each) quiet, until now.

Gretzky’s track record in business is spotty at best—from his short-lived investment in the Toronto Argonauts to his interest in the money-losing Phoenix Coyotes. His record is especially bad when he teams up with Elway. Both invested in the sporting goods retailer MVP.com, a total flop that shut down in 2001 after just nine months in business.

In bull riding, though, the pair may be sitting on a more profitable venture. The fastgrowing, action-packed PBR has been likened to the lucrative NASCAR racing series. Established in 1992, it draws millions of fans to its events each year and has television deals with NBC, FOX and Versus. PBR is now looking for ways to get Gretzky more involved, says a company spokesperson. That could even mean his personal appearance at the tour’s Canadian stop in Edmonton this summer. M

COLIN CAMPBELL