Monday, September 22, 2008

Just a quick soccer hit...

I've used a lot of space on this topic already, so I'm not going to comment. But, if Canadian MLS expansion is of interest to you, have a look at this Seattle Post-Intelligencer article. Don Garber has some interesting things to say about the possibility of more than one more Canuck team coming in.


sager said...

"Clearly with Canada we've got to ensure that we can create a Canadian business with national television partners and national sponsors and broad municipal, political and corporate support. We know that we can create the success locally that exists in Toronto, but we need to ensure that are able to transcend simple fan-following into a viable business."

This is where one can be dubious of the whole expansion to Canada thing. TFC, Montreal Impact and the 'Caps each have their fanatic neighbourhood supporters.

But the two solitudes in Canada are fast becoming Montreal/T.O./Van and Everyone Else. That's what the MLS is up against. TFC's only its second season and it doesn't help that the results have been slow in coming, but not many people in Edmonton or St. John's are making plans to watch them.

I live in Ottawa. I'm the only person I know who owns any TFC gear.

Look at the Raptors. They've had 13 years and they're nowhere close to capturing Canada the way the Blue Jays had by 1990. Times have changed, there's more options out there, but by and large, people are loath to watch a sport that's seen as too big-city or too foreign.

The Raptors sell out every home game. Their website traffic is among the highest in the NBA. Their fanbase is awesome. Get 45 minutes outside Toronto, though, and the only ones who care are people with a serious basketball jones.

Canadians will watch Canadian teams compete against each other in the NHL, CFL or curling. Those are glorious exceptions, but it's almost like they were grandfathered in.

Vancouver is viable due to the heavy-hitters they got behind their bid and the possibility of a regional rivalry with Seattle and Portland. (Hey, it worked for the Grizzles ... wait a second.) Toronto will be fine as long as the Red Patch Boys, et al., keep singing loud and proud.

The day is not coming, though, when a MLS Cup game between the Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps, or Capital City FC and TFC, will get a fraction of the interest of a division final in the CFL.

Duane Rollins said...

Having lived in a lot of different places in this country, I can't say that I disagree with you. One day, in a different context, I'll tell the tale of the trouble I had to go through to find a place in Calgary that would show the opening game of the World Cup. I have to go to Fredericton next Saturday so I'll likely see first hand how much TFC-mania is in the Maritimes (my guess...not much). The Raps are a great comparison. Last year I had to beg a sports bar in St. Catharines to put a Raptors game on one TV out of about 50 in the place on a Saturday night. That's 100km from downtown Toronto...

Duane Rollins said...

The wildcard here, however, is the CBC. Having lost the Olympics, the World Cup is the Ceeb's biggest holding now. Even though the typical TFC game draws about half of what the Vanier Cup draws, the CBC continues to push soccer big. Whether it's the right strategy will not be known for sometime, but our public broadcaster has put a lot of money on the world's game. It's possible that the growth of the game in our urban areas (and let's face it, no one watches the Ceeb in the country outside of Saturday night in winter) is important enough to the CBC for it to invest in a national TV contract with MLS and, as a result, two or three more Canadian MLS teams coming in.