Bulls and Bears: Canada loses at soccer but wins with crowds

 

 
 
 
 
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Photograph by: PNG, Vancouver Sun

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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

With three in-stadium crowds exceeding the threshold of 50,000 paying customers, it has been a bullish week for special event marketing — and for baseball and soccer — in two of Canada’s three largest markets. Home and away losses of 3-0 and 2-0 to Mexico in Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying were disappointing for the Canadian Soccer Association, but the one positive result Canada’s men’s national team scored was the record-setting attendance of 54,798 at Vancouver’s BC Place Stadium last Friday. It was the largest domestic crowd in history for a Canadian national team event in any sport and, combined with an attendance of 22,120 the next night for Major League Soccer action between the Vancouver Whitecaps and Houston Dynamo, it was the biggest weekend of soccer attendance in Canada since the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games. The Olympic mark of 126,000 for the Olympic bronze- and gold-medal soccer matches 40 years ago will never be touched but to see 76,918 soccer fans go through the turnstiles in a 24-hour period in Vancouver is a big win for Canadian soccer, BC Place and the Whitecaps. Similarly, to be halfway to an aggregate attendance of 108,000 for exhibition baseball this weekend at Olympic Stadium is huge for those dreaming of the second coming of the Montreal Expos. The Toronto Blue Jays-Boston Red Sox matchup is as attractive as it gets for the Montreal market, but Major League Baseball cannot help but take note that it’s been three consecutive years of 100,000-plus for two-game sets featuring the Jays. All that Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre needs to make this real is an ownership consortium prepared to pony up north of $1.25 billion USD for a franchise and new downtown ballpark with natural grass. And then there’s the small matter of MLB having a franchise available through expansion or relocation – can you say Tampa Bay Rays?

BEARS OF THE WEEK   

There are two sets of bears in the NHL this week. The first is the red-faced NHL itself after a U.S. federal court ordered the unsealing of hundreds of internal emails that do little to flatter the league’s front office in terms of how it has managed the concussion file, fighting in the game and overall player health and safety. The second is the Group of Seven; Canada’s seven NHL franchises that are now all officially eliminated from the 2016 post-season. It’s not only the first time Canadian-based teams have been shut out of the Stanley Cup tournament since 1970, it’s only the second time it’s ever happened in the history of both the NHL (which has operated since 1917) and the Stanley Cup (which dates back to 1893). It means you can say goodbye to the more than $30,000,000 in ticket sales that would be generated in just two home playoff games for each of Canada’s seven teams, not to mention millions more in jersey, merchandise and concession sales. It will be a different April for sports bars, pubs and restaurants across the country but the biggest collateral damage will be to Rogers Sportsnet — which will post another loss against the $475 million in NHL national rights fees paid this year.

Tom Mayenknecht is host of 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 every Saturday in The Vancouver Sun.

 
 
 
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bullsbears
 

bullsbears

Photograph by: PNG, Vancouver Sun

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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