By 2035 Ottawa will have the population and economic foundation to support new professional teams playing soccer, football and minor league baseball—but not basketball, according to a new report from the Conference Board of Canada.
The think-tank analyzed the demographics and economics of major urban centres and found the country could, by 2035, support three new NHL teams, the return of major league baseball to Montreal and the NBA to Vancouver, as well as at least three new Major League Soccer teams.
Ottawa, given its population and income level, is doing fairly well when it comes to sports teams, said Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist of the Conference Board of Canada Glen Hodgson. “It would have been nice to have a CFL team the last decade, and that’s coming back now that Lansdowne’s proceeding.”
A CFL team is expected to begin playing in Ottawa in 2014.
By 2035, Ottawa and Gatineau will have a population of 1.7 million—enough to also support a Major League Soccer team. The city also has a high number of immigrants, who traditionally support soccer, said Hodgson.
While Ottawa could support a double-A team baseball team, but an MLB team is not feasible, he said. Montreal is the only city the Conference Board of Canada identified as able to support an MLB team.
Basketball has always proven more of a challenge in Canada, said Hodgson.
“Even the (Toronto) Raptors have trouble filling seats,” he said.
However, the think-tank found that Vancouver could support the return of an NBA team.
In general, the think tank believes Canada is ripe for new teams. One of the main factors is the board is predicted a relatively favourable exchange rate to stick around.
“That’s what killed the Expos, the Jets, before they came back, and the Nordiques—they had to pay players in U.S. dollars but were getting revenues in Canadian dollars,” he said.