Ottawa’s Pro sports teams must play well for fans to pay well

OBJ Staff
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Ottawa’s professional sports teams will need to be successful on the field and the ice in order to be successful financially, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

An artist's rendering of the re-branded Canadian Tire Centre in Kanata.

While the think tank says the market for pro sports in the city is better than it has been at any time in the past 20 years, fans must buy tickets to drive revenue.

"The Ottawa sports market is smaller than in many other Canadian cities" Glen Hodgson, the Conference Board's senior vice-president and chief economist, said in a release. Hodgson, who recently co-authored the book Power Play: The Business Economics of Pro Sports,” added, "It has a smaller corporate sector and many fewer head offices than a city of comparable size like Calgary. This puts added pressure on team ownership and management to put a quality product on the rink or field."

Still, the Board says the city’s population and average income, the third-highest in Canada, are enough to support both the Senators and the CFL’s RedBlacks.

Those teams are particularly well-suited to the city due to the salary caps which keep costs below some other professional leagues, according to the Board.

The pressure to perform on the field will be bigger for the RedBlacks, especially after “many years of ineffective ownership and poor management decision-making” led to the collapse of the city’s two previous CFL franchises. “To maintain enthusiasm, the RedBlacks will have to manage their player talent and business operations well to make on-field competitive success more likely,” the Board said.

The Conference Board also praised the public-private partnership development model used for Lansdowne Park, saying it struck the right balance between public support and private investment, lowering the costs and risks for taxpayers.

Organizations: CFL, Pro Sports

Geographic location: Ottawa, Calgary, Canada Lansdowne Park

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  • Jayme
    June 08, 2014 - 10:07

    Berry The Roughriders and Rens was bad ownership not fans as with Capital City again not a fan issue as for the Skyhawks there commited to coming back and did good attendance wise Now with the Fury there doing well in fact would say better then expected attendance wise bottom line we bail out Toronto teams in terms of sweet deals yet not a word yet people make Ottawa out to be the awful market and is the only city that sues tax money Toronto by far is the worse.

  • Barry McKay
    June 06, 2014 - 14:27

    No real news here. It's common knowledge that if Ottawa sports teams don't play in ice they won't last long. In recent years we've seen the Rough Riders (versions 1 & 2), the Lynx, Capital City FC, and Ottawa Intrepid all go belly up. We also have the SkyHawks just about hanging on with a future that looks very doubtful, with crowds in the low hundreds. Despite this the City (aka "us") is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Lansdowne Park and the old Lynx stadium in the assumption that the RedBlacks, and some as yet unknown minor league soccer and AA baseball teams, will somehow be successful. All I can say is that Ottawa taxpayers had better have their cheque books at the ready.

  • Barry McKay
    June 06, 2014 - 14:26

    No real news here. It's common knowledge that if Ottawa sports teams don't play in ice they won't last long. In recent years we've seen the Rough Riders (versions 1 & 2), the Lynx, Capital City FC, and Ottawa Intrepid all go belly up. We also have the SkyHawks just about hanging on with a future that looks very doubtful, with crowds in the low hundreds. Despite this the City (aka "us") is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into Lansdowne Park and the old Lynx stadium in the assumption that the RedBlacks, and some as yet unknown minor league soccer and AA baseball teams, will somehow be successful. All I can say is that Ottawa taxpayers had better have their cheque books at the ready.