Bill Foley, a part-time Whitefish resident and the owner of Whitefish Mountain Resort, has unveiled the name of his latest venture.
The Vegas Golden Knights are official. Foley introduced the identity of Las Vegas’ first major-league sports franchise on Tuesday night outside T-Mobile Arena, where the new NHL team will hit the ice in the 2017-18 season.
“We want our team to be known for dedication, honor, strength, courage and a commitment to never give up — both on the ice and off,” Foley said. “We want our team to be committed to teamwork, service to this great city and integrity in all things — and we wanted a name and logo that represented all of this and was unique to Las Vegas and our community. Vegas Golden Knights is that name.”
Foley’s front office, led by General Manager George McPhee, will select players during an expansion draft next summer. The team, when it starts playing in 2017-18, will join the Pacific Division in the Western Conference.
In an interview with the Beacon last summer, Foley said, “We’ll have a good team. We’ll be in the playoffs in three years, Stanley Cup in seven.”
Forming the Golden Knights has been a passion project of Foley’s for the better part of three years. Not only did he land the first NHL expansion team since 2000, he also gained approval for the first professional sports team in the Entertainment Capital of the World, a trailblazing accomplishment that could pave the way for professional franchises in other leagues, such as the NFL.
Foley developed much of the plans from his office in Whitefish, where he spends several months out of the year. While organizing the franchise, he elicited the help of Murray Craven, a former NHL standout and full-time Whitefish resident.
The Knights moniker holds a special meaning to Foley. The franchise name and colors — black, gold and gray — pay homage to the United States Military Academy. Foley graduated from West Point in 1967 and frequently cites his tenure there as an important turning point that set his life on the course it eventually followed, building Fidelity National Financial into the nation’s largest title insurance company that is a mainstay on the Fortune 500 list.
Foley said Tuesday, “We selected ‘Knights’ because knights are the defenders of the realm and protect those who cannot defend themselves. They are the elite warrior class.”
Foley, who owns a large home on Whitefish Lake, has a prominent business profile in Northwest Montana. He is the majority owner of Winter Sports Inc., the corporation that owns and operates Whitefish Mountain Resort. He owns Glacier Restaurant Group, the largest restaurant company in the state with a new headquarters being built in Whitefish. The restaurant group, formed in 2007, includes MacKenzie River Pizza, Craggy Range Bar & Grill, Ciao Mambo, Latitude 48, and now Max & Erma’s, a Midwest chain that was acquired earlier this year with 70 locations and roughly 1,700 employees. Foley also owns Glacier Jet Center, the large facility at Glacier Park International Airport that provides space, maintenance and other services for private aircraft, as well as charter flights.
Outside of the Flathead Valley, he also owns the Rock Creek Cattle Company, a 30,000-acre working cattle ranch with a private golf course.