Sports

Messi is money in the bank for Inter Miami FC and MLS

Opinion: At the other end of the market this week are the Vancouver Canucks. With their bearish power play missing in action, they’re facing their first real bumpy patch of the season; four consecutive losses that have knocked them out of first place overall in the NHL standings.

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Bulls of the week

With MLS kicking off its regular season this weekend, the team’s 27 franchises are all basking in the glow of Lionel Messi. Since the Argentine’s arrival last year, Inter Miami FC has increased in value on the Forbes’ rankings by a whopping 72 per cent, up from US$600 million to US$1.03 billion.

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There was more heat from Salt Lake City this week on the futures’ market, where a Utah legislator is proposing US$900 million in state funds for a stadium designed to lure Major League Baseball to the city.

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Meanwhile, the hottest basement in the business of sport this weekend is that belonging to the Regina homeowner whose family recently made one of the greatest discoveries in trading card history. They found an unopened case of 16 boxes from the 1979-80 O-Pee-Chee hockey collection, one of which just so happens to include the famous Wayne Gretzky rookie card; the Holy Grail of hockey cards.

Going into the weekend, bidding at Heritage Auctions of Dallas was at US$2.13 million (Cdn$2.9 million) on the case that’s up for grabs until tonight.

The real question is how many Gretzky rookies are among the 10,752 cards in the lot (with 48 packs made up of 14 cards in each of the 16 boxes). Given that there are 396 cards in the O-Pee-Chee set, experts are suggesting that even random math could produce 27 Gretzky rookie cards in the Regina discovery, each of which could wind up being in play for more than US$1.29 million and possibly north of US$3 million for any of them graded as gem mint.

And while we’re on the Gretzky bull market, the two richest franchises in the NHL — the US$2.8 billion Toronto Maple Leafs and the US$2.65 billion New York Rangers — are also the two hottest in the league. The 32-16-8 Leafs have won six straight games while the 38-16-3 Rangers are on a nine-game heater.

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Bears of the week

At the other end of the market this week are the Vancouver Canucks. With their bearish power play missing in action, they’re facing their first real bumpy patch of the season; four consecutive losses that have knocked them out of first place overall in the NHL standings.

Next up for the Canucks are the league-leading Boston Bruins, who also have 80 points but one game in hand on Vancouver.

In the Association, everything about NBA All-Star Weekend was strong except for the All-Star Game itself, a 211-186 laugher for the East over the West. The problem was that the game was so bad that it had to take solace in showing a 20 per cent climb in TV ratings (average U.S. viewership of 5.5 million) over last year’s all-time low.

And there’s plenty of work to do in Canadian soccer, not the least of which is dealing with the headline-making $40 million lawsuit filed on behalf of the Canadian women’s team against the 2018 Board of Directors of Canada Soccer.

That adds to the litigation already underway in both directions between Canada Soccer Business and MediaPro. Captain Obvious. It’s incumbent upon all stakeholders to resolve their differences as elegantly as possible and unite behind the single biggest opportunity the sport has had in Canada: Co-hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup in Vancouver and Toronto.

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Tom Mayenknecht is the host of The Sport Market on Sportsnet 650 on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Vancouver-based sport business commentator and principal in Emblematica Brand Builders provides a behind-the-scenes look at the sport business stories that matter most to fans. Follow Mayenknecht at: twitter.com/TheSportMarket.

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