Sports

Nothing bigger in business of sport this week than Super Bowl XLIII

Opinion: Watch for average national TV audiences of 125 million Americans and another eight million Canadians in the most-watched Super Bowl of all-time.

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Bulls of the week

It’s been a generally good week for the NHL, especially with respect to its long-awaited commitment to the Olympics in particular and international competition in general at NHL All-Star Weekend in Toronto.

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It’s also been a terrific week for Canada Soccer as it has basked in the glow of the 2026 FIFA World Cup announcement last Sunday. Among the big winners in the event co-hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada were Vancouver and Toronto, with seven and six matches each, respectively.

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Yet there is nothing bigger in the business of sport this week than Super Bowl XLIII. By the numbers, it’s without peer among big events that transcend sport into pop culture, entertainment, betting and money; lots of it.

Thirty-second TV commercials have sold for US$7 million. The $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium has been expanded from a seating capacity of 65,000 to 71,000, making for a primary box office of more than $71 million (not including luxury suites and corporate boxes).

The get-in price is at $8,000 per ticket in the rabid secondary ticket market.

Watch for average national TV audiences of 125 million Americans and another eight million Canadians in the most-watched Super Bowl of all-time.

And watch for all the ways that a certain Taylor Swift impacts those numbers as she brings her more than 400 million social-media followers to the game.

She’s literally the Super Bowl business MVP this week.

Bears of the week

We’ve been calling it the sport business soap opera in the desert for 16 years. It’s the continuing uncertainty around the Arizona Coyotes of the NHL.

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In an otherwise positive all-star weekend last week, the Coyotes couldn’t help but command negative media attention to a team that is playing before AHL-type crowds of less than 4,600 in a varsity arena with a capacity of 5,000 on the campus of Arizona State University in Phoenix.

For obvious reasons, after multiple failed starts on an arena solution for the Coyotes, it’s a situation the NHL would prefer not to be dealing with.

As enigmatic owner Alex Muerelo strives to lock in on a 40-hectare arena development plan in northern Phoenix, fans and media commentators are becoming increasingly restless, especially when you have to figure that any new arena plan would be at least three to five years out from coming to fruition.

What makes the current scenario interesting for NHL followers is that it’s happening two weeks after Utah Jazz NBA owner Ryan Smith tabled a very open letter to the NHL, expressing strong interest in bringing an expansion franchise to Salt Lake City.

What makes it even more interesting is how NHL commissioner Gary Bettman referred to the Smith inquiry as one having “energy behind it.”

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It’s language that no league commissioner would use outside of a formal expansion process unless it was purposefully crafted to put more pressure on Muerelo and the Coyotes to finally get their house in order.

And make no mistake, the back-channel discussions among NHL governors pertaining to Salt Lake City, Atlanta and Houston are of no coincidence, especially when there is a middle option between relocation and outright expansion.

That option is to move the team with a hefty relocation fee that would incentify the NHL board of governors in a way that solves the Arizona venue and attendance problems while putting new money in their pockets.

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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