Bulls of the week
Vancouver is in the tennis’ spotlight this week as host of the Europe versus the World exhibition that is the Rod Laver Cup.
It might not have the grassroots’ accessibility or ticket-selling capacity of soccer, but it’s yet another feather in the cap of Vancouver as Canada’s leading special event hub.
The downtown stadium cluster of Rogers Arena and B.C. Place have helped make it so, with everything from the FIFA 2015 Women’s World Cup and the upcoming FIFA 2026 World Cup to the Canada Rugby Sevens and the Vancouver 2025 Invictus Games on tap, along with events such as next year’s Grey Cup.
Make no mistake: Vancouver 2010 helped to create and strengthen the special event confidence and infrastructure that continues to live on to this day in a big way.
It was also a good week for WWE/Smackdown, which announced that Friday nights will return to NBC Universal in October 2024.
The five-year deal at US$287 million per year represents a total investment of US$1.4 billion and an increase of 40 per cent over the current Fox Sports deal valued at US$205 million per year.
Moreover, it gives TKO Holdings — the merged venture that brings together wrestling and UFC mixed martial arts under one publicly traded corporate umbrella — a strong platform at USA Today for the actual Smackdown series, plus four prime time special events each year on NBC and other content streaming on Peacock.
The immediate 14 per cent drop in TKO shares should show some bounceback in the coming weeks.
Yet Major League Baseball is the biggest winner in the business of sport this week.
First and foremost, news of a US$1.2 billion stadium project in St. Petersburg, Fla., is music to the ears of fans of the Tampa Bay Rays, a franchise that has spent so much time on relocation watch in recent years, despite having one of the most efficient and consistent winning percentages in the American League.
Tuesday’s stadium announcement should go a long way to securing the future for baseball in Central Florida.
Once the Oakland Athletics are formally established as the Las Vegas Athletics, it will allow commissioner Rob Manfred to take a much more aggressive stance toward baseball expansion, something that hasn’t been on the menu for 25 years.
Meanwhile, the expanded wild-card structure in MLB continues to pay off huge dividends in terms of fan engagement.
The Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees will both be eliminated this weekend, but seven teams will be alive and kicking going into the final week of play in the AL, with four of them within a half game of each other.
In the NL, it’s even deeper, with 12 teams alive and four teams within three games of each other in the wild-card chase.
Bears of the week
Mike Babcock’s fall from grace is now complete and official, but the Columbus Blue Jackets have every reason to be red-faced about their own decision-making over the past few months.
And in the consolidation of spring football in the U.S. — which three years ago saw three leagues in various stages of activity — watch for the XFL to be the brand of choice when it comes to its projected merger with the USFL.
Marketing communications executive and sport business commentator Tom Mayenknecht — a co-founder of what was TEAM 1040/TSN 1040 in Vancouver — 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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