Sports

The Bulls and the Bears of the sport market

Opinion: Super Bowl, Taylor Swift, Caitlin Clark and women’s sports are the big winners this week.

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Bulls of the week

Salt Lake City is the hottest futures market in the business of sport. The host city of the 2002 Winter Olympics is the prohibitive favourite to be awarded the rights to the winter showcase in 2030, something to be decided by the IOC later this year.

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Moreover, it’s creating a buzz among local sports fans by pushing its own boundaries beyond the Utah Jazz of the NBA and Real Salt Lake of Major League Soccer, the city’s only two major sports franchises.

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Jazz owner Ryan Smith is courting the NHL for a new team and could very well bring the WNBA back to Salt Lake City.

Meanwhile, the Larry H. Miller Company is making a big push for a Major League Baseball expansion franchise, this week announcing plans for a US$3.5 billion, 100-acre development not far from the Delta Center, the arena where the Jazz play, and America First Field, home of Real Salt Lake.

Don’t be surprised if Salt Lake has four major franchises in place or pending by the time the Winter Olympics happen in six years.

It’s been another tipping point week in the rise of women’s sports, with Iowa Hawkeye Caitlin Clark making a dramatic trey from midcourt to set the all-time scoring record in women’s basketball.

In the National Women’s Soccer League, Bay FC set a world record women’s transfer fee in the acquisition of Zambian forward Racheal Kundananji for US$789,000.

Meanwhile, the Professional Women’s Hockey League will set another attendance record tonight when Toronto hosts Montreal before a sellout crowd of 18,800 at Scotiabank Arena.

And to top it all off, NBC California has named Jenny Cavnar the first primary play-by-play commentator in MLB history. She’ll call games for the Oakland Athletics, even if they’re playing in somewhat of a relocation twilight zone going into the new baseball season.

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Yet the most bullish influencer in the business of sport this week was 34-year-old pop superstar Taylor Swift. We suggested last week that she would be this year’s Super Bowl business MVP and she was exactly that.

Fuelled in part by the reach of her 460 million social-media followers, Super Bowl LVIII set a new per-minute average viewership record of 123.7 million Americans — smashing the existing record by seven per cent and delivering a female audience that checked in at a record 47.5 per cent.

The overall 18-to-34-year-old demographic was the largest in Super Bowl history, while overall female viewership was up nine per cent (with female teens up 11 per cent and female 18 to 24s up 24 per cent).

That’s not a bad performance for a total of 54 seconds of air time during the game in Las Vegas, especially after a 10-hour flight back from her Saturday night concert in Tokyo.

Bears of the week

Arguably the most meaningful thing Swift did this week was a donation of US$100,000 to the family of Lisa Lopez Galvan, the local radio DJ who lost her life in the tragedy that was the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl celebration parade Wednesday.

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The senseless shooting that also injured at least 29 others cast a pall over the Chiefs’ repeat championship. It made the parade that drew one million, typically the ultimate celebration and escape for fans, the exact opposite.

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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