Bulls & Bears: MLS scores big out west, up north

 

Tom Mayenknecht hosts The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and TSN Radio, where he regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of sports business. He reviews the major winners and losers of the past week

 
 
 
 
Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

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Sorting out the major winners and losers of this week — with a bottom-line twist — in the world of sports.

BULLS OF THE WEEK

Sunday’s regular season finale at Tim Hortons Field will see the Hamilton Tiger-Cats become the only team in the CFL to sell out all nine of its home games this year. The Ticats are averaging 24,164 fans at the stadium built for the 2015 Pan American Games, which is about three per cent north of its actual seating capacity of 23,500. In fact, Hamilton has sold out all 16 home and playoff dates convened at Tim Hortons Field since it opened on Sept. 1, 2014.

Yet the biggest winner in the business of sport this week has been Major League Soccer in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, given that three of the four Western Conference semifinalists hail from “Cascadia” — the Vancouver Whitecaps, Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers. The Whitecaps not only finished second in the West, they earned a bye into the second round against Portland, which survived a penalty-kick shootout against never-say-die Sporting KC Thursday night.

The Sounders, by far the model franchise in MLS, are in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season and play before crowds of 50,000 at CenturyLink Field.

The fact all three Canadian MLS clubs reached the playoffs this fall is good for Canadian soccer, and who knows how far Didier Drogba and the Montreal Impact can go now that they’ve dispatched Toronto FC. Yet even more impressive is the combined resumes of Vancouver, Seattle and Portland this season and in the past five years. It’s a track record that has made the I-5 highway corridor the hottest regional hub in North American soccer.

BEARS OF THE WEEK

Eight days ago, one of every three Canadians (12 million) watched at least some part of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series, in which the Toronto Blue Jays ended a delirious three-month run. The fact an average national television audience of 5.12 million Canadian fans engaged in that 11th game of the Jays’ post-season represented a high-water mark for the baseball club, at least during its time under the Rogers ownership group and with Sportsnet as its television rights holder.

However, despite the afterglow of their first berth in the post-season in 22 years, going into this Halloween weekend the Blue Jays had fallen sharply, at least in the eyes of many of their fans and even a handful of baseball observers. The emotional response — and that’s what it is in this business — around the departure of general manager Alex Anthopoulos, the 2015 Sporting News Major League Baseball executive of the year, was palpable. Given his fingerprints are all over the best team the Jays have fielded since 1993, it could be a huge loss. Yet the long-term business impact of losing Anthopoulos is not carved in stone. The fact is it’s now on new president and CEO Mark Shapiro. He has two jobs now: Win on and off the field so as not to be forever haunted by outgoing CEO Paul Beeston and Anthopoulos.

Listen to The Sport Market on TSN 1040 AM Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Bulls & Bears airs at 9 a.m., followed by Weekend Extra with Sun Sports at 9:30 a.m. Follow Tom Mayenknecht at: Twitter.com/thesportmarket

 
 
 
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Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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