The Local Canadian Soccer Fan is a main factor in determining whether there is a potential market for another expansion team in the Canadian Premier League. The most recent data available in Vividata's Spring 2022 Survey of the Canadian Consumer, can potentially help us with this expansion question. The survey includes data covering January to December 2021 and based on the available markets covered in this, we can detect a few potential and other more interesting facts. We'll use this by showcasing a P-Map which includes an X axe and an Y axe. By combining 2 potential factors we will be able to detect potential towns that could be looked at going forward. The combination of Soccer Fans who tend to watch Soccer on TV/Streaming and Going to Live Events of Professional Soccer Games and laying these over a Soccer Grassroots Level that includes a combination of Canadians that play soccer as a team sport in their free time or have children in the household that play soccer we will be able to come up with a few interesting facts.
Before we show you the P-Map with "Bubbles" we should note that a few potential markets are missing. These are mainly Kamloops, Kelowna and Moncton. We have 2 main charts to share. The first one will demonstrate the main markets, the other one will look at specific Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver areas that could be a fit on their own.
Let's take a look at the first P-Map: X is soccer viewers TV or Soccer Games attended and Y is Play in Soccer Team in Leisure or have children playing soccer. Towns show up based on Index. Higher than 100 means the activity is more likely being done by the local population compared to the total Canadian population. We should however be cautious due to the fact that Covid-19 might have a significant impact on all these numbers.
The Sweet Spot is the Right Top Corner, while the weakest link would be the bottom left corner. The size of the Bubbles is determined by the population of the town. What do we see?
The most viewed (TV/Live Games) in combination with most played on grassroots level (Leisure Team/Children playing in Soccer Team) clearly shows the potential for ... Windsor. Mr. David Clanahan didn't only demonstrate his business smart with Tim Hortons and the launch of the CPL, but has found the absolute sweet spot for a potential CPL expansion team. Not only are the population heavy viewers of the Beautiful Game on screen and/or at games they also have a very active population that loves to play soccer or have children that play. We see this sweet spot as an indication that Windsor could be a potential market.
Other markets that index high against these 2 criteria are: Brantford, Toronto CMA, Vancouver CMA, Ottawa Gatineau North Bay, Hamilton, Timmins, Kingston and Cornwall. Some of these are already covered by existing teams (Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa) or expansion teams (Vancouver) but ignoring the population size there could be some more opportunities in Ontario.
If you consider viewing as more important (and local grassroots participation as less important) then some of the other potential markets jump out: Saint John, Owen Sound, Halifax, Chatham, Kitchener, Sault Ste Marie, Cape Breton, London and North Bay. So far only 1 team is covered by this group, Halifax and with success demonstrated by their very high attendance at home games. I would see Moncton as a possible alternative to Saint John because of its stadium, even though this town wasn't part of the survey.
If you consider a high local participation (and near average viewing/attendance) as an important factor to look at CPL expansion, the following markets could be considered: Calgary, St. Catherines/Niagara, Sherbrooke, Edmonton, Cornwall and Kingston. Winnipeg is also in this group, thanks to grassroots level participation, but there is a concern for Viewing/attendance. The 3 existing CPL Prairie teams are in this group, one more successful than the other based on their attendance. Because these markets tend to have a high grassroots level participation it would be key for the local CPL team to reach out to the local soccer community, more so than the markets identified.
Finally there is the weakest link. As long as they are near the national average of viewing/attendance and grassroots participation, they could still have a potential. That would be mainly Victoria, Sudbury, Sarnia, Montreal CMA, St. John's, Quebec City, Granby, Belleville, Saskatoon, Regina, Charlottetown and Brandon. We can pretty much ignore Saugenay (sorry!) and Trois Rivieres based on their low index against the national population. One existing team (Pacific) is in this group, but their potential is still there because they are close to the 100 index for both categories. The Quebec and Regina/Saskatoon markets might end up ok, but there is still this caution that these markets aren't performing as well as for instance what we can see in Windsor and Brantford.
So what about these larger towns where certain suburbs/areas can demonstrate if another town could be a place to look at within Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver areas. The following P-Map demonstrates where we could potentially see another team that might be a great fit for perhaps another local derby expansion team or we could even look at where another Toronto team could be a better fit based on the data demonstrated here.
This chart demonstrates the sweet spot within the Toronto GTA is Burlington which has a very high index against grassroots participation but also a very high index for viewing/attendance. Scarborough does very well against viewing/attendance as well, but perhaps it's just to close to Toronto FC's stadium, which might also be said by the City of Toronto and perhaps also Balance of Toronto CMA, which should include the York region. It does show there could be a market and maybe it's just York United's location at the campus that is the eye soar? Other markets are Ottawa and the one of the mecca's for Canadian soccer talent: Brampton. Mississauga is actually another potential market based on viewing/attendance potential.
If you look at grasslevel participation there is apart from St. Catharines a potential Quebec market that jumps out: Estrie, which includes Sherbrooke as its largest city within the area.
Looking at viewership and attendance we see a few other markets that jump out in La Belle Province.
Montreal Island is within Montreal's CMA the best fit with the rest of the Montreal CMA a close second. Laval would be part of this. When looking at Quebec City, the Western part of town scores better than the Eastern part. Maurice/Centre de Quebec seems to be the least potential market for a team.
By using these references there seem to be potential expansion markets available across the country. Halifax and Victoria (Langford) demonstrated clearly that you don't need a population of 500,000 to make it work. But it helps if you have a potential fanbase that can be found in current viewers/attendants of soccer games and a high local participation level at the grassroots level. The latter is of course a great asset to finding the local gem for the new team.
(maps are based on P-Maps from Vividata Spring 2022 Survey - Survey of the Canadian Consumer)