Sports commentator Enrico Andreoli Montreal was speaking last month about how he anticipate that all of the North American big 4 sports leagues will eventually play games abroad. We have already seen with the NBA and the NFL that they have taken games over to Europe and to Mexico, but as yet the likes of Ice Hockey and baseball remain on home soil. On the other side of the argument, we know that Europe’s biggest soccer teams enjoy a pre-season tournament in the States or in Canada, but could we see those play a regular season fixture in these countries? Enrico certainly believes so and that is because of the mass appeal that there is, and here is what that contains.
As we all know almost every sport under the sun is a business and every decision that is made within those sports is motivated by money. And so there is a clear lure that big matches can be played abroad. For example you may find that Geiko are prepared to spend tens of millions of dollars to bring a La Liga game to Los Angeles, this may seem a bit much now but given the Super Cup being played in Qatar, it is clear that money, and sponsorship money in particular, really talks.
Promotion of the Brand
The reason why the NFL and the NBA both decided to play games in London was that it could already see that there was a small following in the country and then they decided to double down on that by taking the games there. What this has done is create excitement and the more that people talk about an event and the more exposure it gets, the more fans the leagues are likely to have. This for example is exactly the reason why we see the European leagues bring their teams to the US and Canada for pre-season training, because they recognize the fact that there is a big market here already and they are then looking to expand on that.
We do know about some of them yet there are many more which we know nothing about, and that is the partnerships that exist between sports teams across the world. Sometimes these teams do not even play the same sport, but they will use their influence in their own countries to help one another. We see marketing partnerships all the time which seek to create a mutually beneficial relationship. Naturally when teams are playing on the other side of the world and using local stadiums, there is plenty of time for schmoozing and deal making.
This is the appeal of sending the sport all over the world and there is little doubt in my mind that Enrico was absolutely right in his assessment when he suggested that this could be something which happens more and more, and will include the likes of the MLB and the NHL.