The Canadian dollar has enjoyed a second wave of rising strength in recent months, and rose to its highest level versus the American dollar in 15 months last week. According to a report from Reuters, that could help make a seventh Canadian NHL franchise a reality.
Up until now anyone not named Jim Balsillie stood little-to-no chance of successfully luring the NHL to a Canadian city. Balsillie’s attempt to skirt the rules and acquire the Phoenix Coyotes and move them to Hamilton may have failed, but financial analysts are now predicting a potential return of NHL hockey to fallen hosts like Winnipeg and Quebec City.
Par For The Course?
A strong dollar means higher television and sponsorship revenues coming from Canada, and it would also lighten the burden of hefty relocation fees should a southern team be transplanted:
Of the major North American sports leagues, experts agree the NHL, with the biggest Canadian presence, would be the main beneficiary of a rallying Canadian dollar as Canadian broadcast and sponsorship deals generate high U.S. dollar returns.
The currency’s surge could also help hockey-starved Canadian cities looking to land an NHL franchise, as smaller markets become more viable and relocation fees more manageable.
It’s not just a potential seventh NHL franchise that should get Canadian hockey fans worked up, the six current teams in Canada stand to benefit from the strong dollar according to the piece from Reuters:
The biggest single expense for Canadian sports teams — salaries — is priced in U.S. dollars, while revenues are mostly in Canadian dollars. Historically this has left them at a disadvantage versus U.S. teams when hunting for talent.
Although Balsillie’s bid ultimately failed, it did send the message to the league that crazy Canadians will go to great lengths in their efforts to bring more professional hockey to their country. The NHL in Hamilton was a billionaire’s pipe dream; the city lacked the facilities to effectively host an NHL franchise in a Province that already features two teams. Only California and New York State play home to three NHL teams, and they’ve got the population and money to do it successfully. A return to a hockey-hungry market like Winnipeg or Quebec would likely be more attractive in the eyes of Gary Bettman as it’s a long, long way from Toronto.
Winnipeg’s MTS Centre is the home of the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, but is lauded by critics for it’s low seating capacity. It’s Quebec City that has stormed to the forefront in recent weeks as a potential bidder for Canada’s next team after the city announced plans to build a new $400 million arena.
Whatever the case, and whatever the future holds for hockey in Canada, it’s important to remember to tread these waters carefully as the dollar’s volatility could sink any plans before they even hatch. Regardless, the dollar’s current surge has picked up the momentum started by Balsillie and taken a seventh NHL franchise for Canada one step closer to reality.