Is it possible that Canadian University Athletics could be as popular and prosperous as our counterparts in the US? I was recently on vacation in Florida with my kid and we were going to our first NH L game – Tampa Bay Lightening. In an attempt to save some cash, I thought I would be fun to buy a Tampa Bay t-shirt before we got to the (pricey) arena.
So, we hit the major department stores, sports retailers and the major grocery retailers. What did we find – not so surprising – there was no NHL merchandise anywhere – not even a hat (ok, we were in Clearwater, but that isn’t too far from Tampa).
What we did find probably shouldn’t have been a surprise – lots of NFL merch, MLB (not Jays) and lots and lots of college merchandise – lots of Florida Gator wear, with the green aligator mascot (Florida State Athletics Program).
Would Toronto’s Varsity Blues, or UBC’s Thunderbirds be able to push as much merchandise at a sporting goods retailer? Would it work to have a fast food restaurant feature mini jersies of varsity hockey teams as collectibles? I know we can’t compete with the big top sports, but isn’t it time we took a look at an unleveraged asset? I think potential sponsors could really make an impact.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as guilty as others. I don’t take my kid to see varsity sports – and really, the big reason is well, I just don’t think about it…
But I think I should – it is fun, more affordable than most professional sports. We’ll see.