Nelson Skalbania

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Nelson Skalbania
Born (1938-02-12) February 12, 1938 (age 77)
Vancouver, British Columbia
Alma mater University of British Columbia
California Institute of Technology
Occupation Businessman, Sports Franchise Owner, Engineer

Nelson M. Skalbania (born February 12, 1938) is a former businessman from Vancouver, British Columbia best known for signing 17-year-old Wayne Gretzky to the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association.

In 1961, Skalbania graduated from University of British Columbia with a bachelor's degree in applied science, then received his Professional Engineering certification in 1962. He received a master's degree in civil engineering in 1964 at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California (specializing in seismic engineering).

His initial profession as a consulting engineer in the early 1960s expanded into an extensive real estate career in parallel with the consulting business.

In December 1998, Nelson Skalbania was put in jail for a 12-month sentence for theft. Skalbania illegally used money from an investor to cover debts in his real estate firm. [1]


Consulting businesses[edit]

President and majority owner of McKenzie Snowball & Skalbania, consulting engineers. Started in 1964, there were over 100 employees in four locations in structural, electrical, and mechanical engineering consulting. Skalbania closed the practice in 1981 shortly before declaring bankruptcy.

Real estate and Services Transactions[edit]

Skalbania was active in flipping real estate, primarily in the US and Canada. Some assets included:

  • Bought and resold property from Genstar and 31 different Eaton's properties/stores across Canada
  • Bought and resold Omni Complex in Atlanta, Georgia, Circus World in Orlando, and Opera Square, San Francisco
  • Bought and resold Watergate Apartments Oakland, California.
  • Restaurants including Malibu, Beach House, Horse & Carriage Inns
  • Hotels including Rembrandt, Georgia, Devonshire, Wedgewood
  • Long Distance Telephone Marketing Co. (AT+E) based in Phoenix,
  • American Warranty Inc,
  • Golf Courses including Meadow Gardens, Carnoustie


Skalbania bought and sold or folded several sports teams, notably:

Bankruptcy and decline[edit]

After a series of bad deals Skalbania filed a bankruptcy proposal in Vancouver, British Columbia on December 16, 1982. It called for his 125 unsecured creditors to allow him five years to repay $30.3 million in debts. Due to high interest rates, a depressed real-estate market and millions lost on sports ventures Skalbania subsequently defaulted. In December 1998, Nelson Skalbania was given a 12-month sentence for illegally using money from an investor to cover debts in his real estate firm.



  1. ^ "Skalbania in jail". CBC News. 1998-12-11. Retrieved 2015-05-26.