Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Vancouver Sun Article Comparing BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps

The Vancouver Sun has a good article comparing which team in BC is second to the Canucks in terms of popularity. As someone interested in the economics of the CFL I always find these articles interesting. Some interesting points:

"Nationally, only the $1.3-billion Toronto Maple Leafs and $1-billion Montreal Canadiens of the NHL plus the $920-million Toronto Raptors of the NBA and $870-million Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball are valued as bigger Canadian sport franchises by Forbes."

This was in reference to the Canucks, who are legitimately impressive (although they probably sell less merch than the Roughriders). I'm a little more surprised that the Raptors are worth slightly more than the Blue Jays. 

""The team’s high achievement over time is reflected in its related arena business, which sees Canucks Sports & Entertainment cashing in on the marketing of Rogers Arena as a concert and special-event hub. It is currently the second-biggest arena naming deal in Canada — and one of the top-10 in North America — at $6 million per year."

I'm especially interested in naming rights and $6 million per year isn't chump change (the Ticats naming rights are rumoured to be between $1 and $1.5 million per year).

"Now in their fifth season in Major League Soccer, the Whitecaps are pegged at about $70 million in franchise valuation. That’s almost three times the $27-million price tag accorded the Lions on the strength of their share of the new $40-million CFL television deal struck with TSN two years ago. The Whitecaps are playing before crowds averaging just a little under 21,000 at BC Place Stadium, renovated to the tune of $563 million in 2010-11, compared to about 28,000 for the Lions."

I'm wondering where the $70 million valuation for the Whitecaps comes from. I suppose part of it is they could potentially be moved to the US where maybe there's a floor for franchises. The television money from Canada can't be worth anything, while I'm not sure how much the US television contract is worth, although it is divided amongst a lot of teams. One problem is that with the Canadian dollar down, their player expenses are in US dollars while most of their revenue is in Canadian dollars. Plus while the salary cap in theory is low for the MLS, to compete a team has to splash a lot of money on franchise players (which Toronto FC did last year and still sucked). I can't imagine the Whitecaps are near profitable.

"as long as the CFL on TSN drives average national audiences north of 750,000 per game (including to between 350,000 and 400,000 across B.C. for Lions games). That kind of television platform is huge in an era in which sports sponsorship and advertising is still ratings driven, even in a largely gate-driven league such as the CFL.
The Lions hold a significant advantage over the Whitecaps in terms of average television audiences (about 700,000 to 140,000 in 2014). Those numbers will continue to skew in favour of the CFL as long as it has three times the number of Canadian markets (nine) as MLS (three). Every Lions game on TSN attracts viewers from the opposing market, along with hard-core CFL fans tuning in from other markets. On the other hand, only 15 per cent of the Whitecaps games on TSN are against Canadian opponents and the MLS is much more relevant in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal than it is in the CFL strongholds of Regina, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary."

This is a salient point I've made for a while, that CFL games are always against Canadian teams, while for the vast majority of MLS games, the Canadian teams play US opponents. That obviously hurts television audiences for which large ones are especially appealing for national advertisers who have money. And to be honest, I'm a little skeptical on the 140,000 number for the Whitecaps. I've never seen a Whitecaps number not against a Canadian opponent that high.

Anyways, the article is filled with a lot of interesting numbers including social media numbers. Definitely worth reading in its entirety. 

March 2015 CFL Power Rankings

It is the last day of March and I'm getting around to doing the power rankings for this month. Not a lot has changed. The Ticats resigned receiver Bakari Grant at a salary advantageous to the team which I definitely think is a positive for them. And I don't have a lot else. Naming a commissioner I don't think should affect the power rankings.

1. Calgary Stampeders
They won the Grey Cup and have Bo Levi Mitchell signed long term. They have lost some players, but they still have talent.

2. Hamilton Tiger-Cats
With the signing of Bakari Grant the Cats again have a solid receiving corps going into a second season with Zach Collaros. Sure they lost Greg Ellingson to Ottawa (who I do like) but he wasn't really starting last year anyways. The Cats did sign Nic Grigsby to go along with C.J. Gable at running back so the Cats are likely set on offense over all, even if Gable gets injured again.

The Cats did lose their best corner in Breaux to the New Orleans Saints, but they have a lot of Canadian talent on defence and could potentially start four Canadians. That's some solid depth.

3. Edmonton Eskimos
I'm assuming Mike Reilly is healthy at the start of the year.The Eskimos were a great team in the first half of 2014 and not particularly great in the second half. I think Edmonton should be good this year as well, but they will depend on Reilly and more importantly depend on him not getting injured. That last part I'm not that sure about.

4. Saskatchewan Rough Riders
Again I'm assuming that a starting quarterback is back and healthy. I like Durant and I like Saskatchewan's commitment to the run. I like Dressler and the Rider defence. We'll see how these all hold out. Probably not enough for delusional Rider fans.

5. BC Lions
So Travis Lulay is coming back? I don't doubt it is possible, but he is just as likely to blow out his shoulder signing autographs. There's talent on this team, but too many question marks. Like how well Andrew Harris plays.

6. Montreal Alouettes
Well they don't have receiver Duron Carter any more (and we don't have to listen to Rod Black pointing out who his father is constantly which is good for non-Montreal CFL fans). I've never really been on the bandwagon of Jonathon Crompton; to me his stats are a bit sucky. However the Alouettes have a good defence. And they have signed Dan LeFevour as a backup quarterback, which I think is good.

7. Toronto Argonauts
They still have Ricky Ray and Chad Owens which helps. Honestly, the Argos need to be sold and moved to BMO as soon as possible. I think that would help their team record a lot.

8. Winnipeg Blue Bombers
They could surprise like they did the first six games of last year. Or suck like the last 12. Considering I have them second last, you can guess who I think the real Bombers are.

Way better receivers, but they still have Henry Burris as the starter. I think the REDBLACKS will definitely win more than 2 games this year, but even five more wins puts them at only seven wins. Still I don't think it is inconceivable that if everything broke their way they could get an even win loss season (that may or may not include a lot of other teams losing their starting quarterbacks for extended periods of time).

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Jeffrey Orridge New CFL Commissioner

It took some time, but the CFL finally named a new commissioner to replace Mark Cohon. Apparently Orridge is a former CBC executive. Kind of an under the radar pick I think.

Orridge will still have to concentrate on fixing the Argos, at least in terms of finding them somewhere to play. Good luck to him.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Former CFL First Round Pick Shomari Williams Released By Saskatchewan Roughriders

I saw on cfl.ca that the Riders released non-import defensive end Shomari Williams. Williams was drafted first overall by the Riders in 2010. Williams signed in 2013 with the Cats as a free agent and was pretty much injured the entire season, which was a major disappointment. The Cats traded him back to the Riders for the 2014 season.

Williams as a non-import was likely drawing a large salary, but only appeared to play special teams in 2014 with 17 special teams tackles. I'm doubting the Cats would sign him as they have plenty of Canadian (arguably too much) defensive line talent.

Photo of BMO Field Reconstruction

I took this photo of the reconstruction of BMO Field in Toronto last Thursday. The East stands look like they are being made  larger. Still no word on whether the Argos will be moving in.