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August 23, 2021

Canada could support five more 'Big Four' sports teams: report

For better or worse, history tends to remember things differently than they were, though it’s tough to recall much good about the final years of the Montreal Expos.

Canada’s other Major League Baseball team had its attendance woes late in its life, which everyone knows (even after a 2,000-odd fan increase, for instance, the Expos still drew just 10,031 per game in 2002). But what’s lost in sappy odes to the Montreal team of years past was that, during its final two seasons, support for the Expos was so lousy it actually had to play more than a quarter of its games in Puerto Rico just to stay afloat.

Mercifully, the Expos were taken from Montreal after the 2004 season, when they moved to Washington, D.C., and became known as the Nationals, the team that now has the best record in baseball.

It was the end of the sport in Montreal, but it shouldn’t be, according to a new report from the Conference Board of Canada.

By the Conference Board of Canada’s report, our nation is primed to attract new big league sports teams, even to cities where professional clubs have failed before.

*Bing: Why did the Grizzlies leave Vancouver?

The study’s authors scoured Canada’s cities, looking for nominees that could economically support a pro team.

This included gauging population growth trends, the effects of an aging population, the strength of Canada’s dollar and income growth relative to each town.

What the Conference Board of Canada found was that all of the country’s current pro sports teams are on strong footing, and that the nation could sustain five new “Big Four” clubs and as many as three new Major League Soccer teams.

Those “Big Four” clubs: another baseball team in Montreal, another NBA team in Vancouver (the Grizzlies moved to Memphis in 2001 after just six years in the city) and three new NHL teams, another in Quebec City (the Nordiques moved to Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche in 1995), one in Hamilton and a second in Toronto.

By 2035, the report suggested, another seven cities could also support new CFL teams. No mention of an NFL team, like the Buffalo Bills that’ve played a handful of games in Toronto since 2008, was made.

“In short,” says the report, “the future is bright for pro sports in Canada.”

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...