I'll tell you what (the potential Sask owner) wants, what (the potential Sask owner) really, really wants
Land. He wants land.
In 2013, there was a press event in Miami where it was announced that David Beckham and MLS had come to an agreement that he would be granted a team in Major League Soccer that would play in the city (just as soon as he got a stadium deal in place).
It was an exciting day. Fans held scarves up. Don Garber spoke about MLS returning to a market that it was forced out of just over a decade prior to that day.
Many promises were made (Except for the franchise, They needed to do the work first).
Sure enough, it came to fruition (7 years later).
The exact same thing happened today (minus the fans -- COVID – and David Beckham – we’re Canadian) with the CanPL with regards to the league expanding into Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
(There’s still a long way to go).
That the CanPL wants into Saskatchewan has been known for a long time. It’s a market that is massive in the CFL and those in the league with experience in that league will understand that it has the potential to be the same for CanPL. As the home of the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon is a youthful city and a CanPL team there could do for that city what the ‘Riders have done for Regina.
It’s a no-brainer of a market. Having lived in the province, I have zero doubt that it would be a massive success and would very much have an atmosphere similar to what you find in Halifax.
I badly want spend my time today talking about whether the team should be branded as Saskatchewan or Saskatoon, what the talent is in Sask, and how many fans will show up. (But, I’m kind of stuck on the small print).
Let’s be frank: Today’s announcement was lacking two very important factors – money and stadium.
Although there is now a face attached to the bid, there actually isn’t much different between the situation today and where things were a week ago, or even a few months ago. The only difference is that the fans can get behind something that’s public, even if it’s mostly still a concept.
This represents another effort by the CanPL to be more open in its operations, which is positive. I was told last night that you can expect more of these announcements this summer, with ownership groups given exclusive rights to a territory.
I don’t actually have a problem with this strategy (although it is awfully MLS-like), but I do worry that fans in the markets might get burnt if/when one of these pre-announcements falls through.
There’s already some significant opposition to the Saskatoon stadium plan that shouldn’t be hand-waved away. I’ll have a lot more on the ownership and what the full picture of all this is for Monday, but, for now, I think it’s fair to say that the excitement of CanPL fans is being relied on as a strategy to be used here to help overcome some of that opposition.
It’s also likely that the prize that they are after is more the land, which has a unique, tax free status, then the stadium or team. The team is leverage to get the stadium, which gives them the land. It’s exactly how TFC came to be, actually, with MLSE making a play for Exhibition Place control by using the team as a carrot for people to get behind.
All this might not matter to you and that’s fine, understandable even. Fans should just be aware that that are political pawns in a much bigger play and hope that they get what they want – a team – out of it in the end.
If that happens and there is an announcement that Saskatchewan is getting a team, I will be the first to celebrate it.
That announcement didn’t come today, however.