Weekly Digest: Blue Jays valued at $1.35 billion

A weekly digest of the top Canadian sports business news, tweets, and more. All links are curated by hand by the Sports Business Canada team. Submit news to sportsbusinesscanada@gmail.com. Get the Sports Business Canada weekly digest delivered to your inbox every week by joining our mailing list.

Cashing in on the Blue Jays

Last week, Forbes released their annual list of estimated MLB team values and the Toronto Blue Jays ranked 16th in MLB with a valuation of $1.35 billion, up 4% from 2017. Rogers Communications purchased the Blue Jays for $137 million in 2000. In 2018, player expenses are $180 million and the team has revenue of $274 million, down slightly from 2017 ($278 million). The Blue Jays lead the AL in attendance last season for a second straight year, with gate receipts totalling $83 million. The New York Yankees were #1 on the list with a valuation of $4 billion – a whopping $1 billion more than the LA Dodgers, who were 2nd on the list. Thanks to a 91 win season in 2017, average attendance at Yankee Stadium was up 5.3% and TV ratings on YES Network soared 57%. According to Forbes, the value of the Yankees has compounded annually by 15% since a group lead by George Steinbrenner paid $8.8 million for the team back in 1973.

Hometown discount for Argos’ fans

The Argos may have been winners on the field last season, but there’s lots of room for improvement off the field. In 2017, the Argos averaged 13,913 fans per game, representing just over 50% capacity at BMO Field and more than 10,000 fans below the CFL’s average attendance. MLSE, the team’s new owners, announced a series of changes last week aimed at improving attendance and the game day experience at BMO Field for Argos’ games. The average ticket price will be rolled back by 23%, meaning tickets will be available for as low as $15 per for season ticket holders and $19 per game at the gate. In addition, the team will control supply by keeping the upper deck empty unless demand increases, bring tailgating into the stadium, reintroduce the team’s old slogan “Pull Together” and rebrand to focus on the team’s rowing roots.

Jeff Hunt to step down

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group (OSEG) announced last week that Jeff Hunt will step down as the Ottawa REDBLACKS’ President at the end of 2018 CFL season. Hunt, an OSEG ownership partner, will maintain his other roles with the organization: OSEG Board Member, REDBLACKS’ Alternate Governor and Governor of the Ottawa 67’s Hockey Club. In 2008, he partnered with fellow Ottawa business leaders Roger Greenberg, John Ruddy, William Shenkman and John Pugh to form OSEG, and, together, they were awarded a CFL franchise, built a new stadium/urban lifestyle district, and hosted and won a Grey Cup.

“I’m an entrepreneur and marketer at heart,” said Hunt. “The day-to-day operations of a business is not my favorite thing. We have many strong business people at OSEG and they don’t need me checking-up on them. As an OSEG partner, I’ll still be up-to-speed on our teams and the business and have an opportunity to contribute to future growth and success.”

Sports Business Canada

Covering the top stories at the intersection of sports and business in Canada.