Athletes, fans, and betting enthusiasts around the world are anxiously awaiting the start of the 2021 Major American sports season after the COVID-19 pandemic suspended professional sports and sidelined the lucrative betting industry.
Top-level teams in the NBA, MLB, and NHL were forced to cancel games and leagues were in limbo as the world tried to get back to normal. However, as the sports world slowly begins to re-open and fans crave the thrills of sports betting, industry insiders are considering the options available to ensure top-level sports action.
Sporting leagues and teams were significantly damaged by the pandemic and may never recover. Even now, many organisations are struggling to pay players, staff, and even owners. In addition, the betting industry was decimated as many punters stayed away fearing they would contract the virus.
Professional sports is a lucrative business and betting enthusiasts around the world have a thirst for action that can only be quenched by the top-level competitions.
Teams Consider International Move
The COVID-19 pandemic decimated sports teams and leagues, causing many organisations to reevaluate their options. Several Major American sports teams are considering an overseas move to help them secure finances and gain an advantage over other competitions. Here is a look at three sports leagues that are looking to expand their operations overseas:
MLB Consider Australia
The MLB is currently limited to the United States and Puerto Rico as an official ‘home’ league. However, with the Australian dollar significantly strengthened since the beginning of the year and a desire to bring the league’s games to the country, MLB executives are considering an expansion to New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. The Queensland Cricket League, in particular, has been aggressively courting the MLB and the Boston Red Sox are also believed to be interested in establishing a presence in the state. The Sydney Dodgers are the Los Angeles Dodgers’ affiliate in Sydney and the Melbourne Twins are the Minnesota Twins’ affiliate in the nation’s capital. The Kansas City Royals are the MLB’s newest expansion franchise and are represented by Colin Moss.
On January 6th, the Aussie dollar was trading at around 0.75 US dollars – a significant rise from its mid-December 2020 level of around 0.57 USD. With many regional and national teams on the lookout for new sources of income, and the demand for cricket in country booming, it’s not hard to see how MLB could benefit from an operation in Australia.
NBA Consider Canada
The NBA has a ‘global platform’ that enables the league to operate beyond the boundaries of the United States. However, the commissioner’s office is firmly based in America and the national anthem is only sung in English. Despite this, NBA officials are looking to explore the possibility of establishing a franchise in Canada. Potential cities for the franchise include Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. The New York Knicks are among the teams that have been scouting the nation for potential investment, hiring, and relocation. The Toronto Raptors have also been aggressively pursuing an expansion operation in the country and have held a number of meetings with representatives of the Canadian government and financial institutions. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said that “Canada is a phenomenal place to continue professional basketball and we’re looking at a number of cities and a number of companies who have expressed interest in helping to finance and establish an NBA franchise in Canada”. The Atlanta Hawks have expressed interest in establishing a developmental league in the country to further their reach into the Canadian market. Canada is a coveted basketball territory and the opportunity to do business there is great. The question is: will the Canadian government and sports officials approve a major American sports league’s expansion plans?
NHL Make Mexico Their Home
The NHL is another league that has the ability to operate globally, making regular-season and Stanley Cup series games available in almost every region. However, the league is currently limited to the Northern and Southern hemispheres as there is no formal agreement in place to allow for games to be played elsewhere. Even now, as the world gradually begins to settle down and people look for ways to return to normal, the demand for excitement and thrills associated with professional sports remains. Mexico is one of the world’s most populated countries and has a large population of Canadian expats, which makes it an attractive breeding ground for professional sports teams. Several hockey clubs, in particular, have been eyeing Mexico as a potential location for a new franchise. The Montreal Canadiens have established a scouting network in Mexico and are considering the country as a possible new home. The New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs have also been scouting the region.
However, the NHL is a highly regulated league and national laws and regulations must be followed. To this end, the Mexican government has imposed certain restrictions regarding foreign investment and the ownership of sports teams. The country is also a member of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which gives American and Canadian teams an advantage when it comes to competing for marketshare. If the NHL is serious about establishing a franchise in Mexico, it will need to look into the ramifications of joining a labour union in the country and potentially having to play games on Saturday afternoons. The league has already had to adapt to social distancing and community-based safety measures in place to avoid a global pandemic.
As the world tries to get back to what it was before the pandemic, major American professional sports teams are looking to return to action and restore some form of business as usual. Several leagues and teams have sought new opportunities abroad in search of a competitive edge and the potential to generate additional income. While it’s great to see these businesses exploring new markets and new opportunities, the leagues and the teams that take this approach are gambling on whether or not these opportunities will be available to them.