Winnipeg Free Press Newspaper Archives Jul 17 2015, Page 38

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Winnipeg Free Press (Newspaper) - July 17, 2015, Winnipeg, Manitoba C M Y K PAGE C2 TORONTO — Professional sports teams in Canada are facing the prospect of being priced out of the competition as the Canadian dollar flirts with values not seen in more than half a decade. Canada’s NHL, NBA and Major League Baseball franchises pay their players in American dollars, but collect most of their revenue in Canadian currency, so the loonie’s drop on Thursday to 77.10 cents U. S. puts a strain on their bottom line. Economist Glen Hodgson wrote a book on the business of professional sports, and he says the exchange rate is one of the biggest concerns for professional sports teams in Canada. “ It’s going to cost them more and more,” he said. In the mid- 1990s, when the Canadian dollar was worth less than 75 cents U. S., the country lost multiple franchises as the Quebec Nordiques, Montreal Expos and Winnipeg Jets all moved south. The reasons behind each move varied, Hodgson said, but the exchange rate was a factor and expedited each franchise’s exit. “ Even if the Nordiques were selling out, they had to make $ 1.40 for every U. S. dollar of salary,” he said. “ That added a huge cost burden to those franchises to the point where it just wasn’t sustainable.” Although the relationship between payroll and performance isn’t perfect, Hodgson said, teams have to pay their best players and attract highvalue free agents if they want to remain competitive and retain the interest of fans. Professional teams in big cities with broad support such as the Toronto Raptors or the Montreal Canadiens will be able to weather the storm, Hodgson said, but those in smaller markets such as the Ottawa Senators or the resurrected Winnipeg Jets could have a harder time. “ The danger is if you don’t draw, you can’t pay, you can’t attract the good players,” he said. “ It can become a negative feedback loop.” Richard Peddie, the former president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, said the gap in exchange rates can add up to millions in losses for a team. Coaches and general managers are often paid in U. S. dollars too, he added. Still, Peddie said the poor exchange rate for the Canadian dollar won’t prevent teams from pursuing players or coaches if they really feel the additions are necessary. “ The owners are not going to like what it does to the bottom line, but they want to win,” he said. Winnipeg Jets spokesman Scott Brown says that while the dollar’s slide hurts the team’s business, it’s not as important as it’s made out to be. “ While it’s not great on the overall business as you could imagine, it’s not as bad as people might think,” he said. The team hedges itself against the risk from falling exchange rates, Brown said, although he did not elaborate. He said such measures are routine. “ It’s something that we’ve done in the past and we’ve done this time,” he said. “ It’s protected us in this situation.” Hodgson said while the exchange rate may be of greater concern to teams now than it was two years ago, they can survive. “ Most franchises can find a way through this,” he said. “ They just have to be clever.” — The Canadian Press Bring in the coupon for your food bill 25 % off Located in the V i s count G ort H otel 1 670 P ortage Av e. the Ride Shuttle to all Home Home Football Games* Reg price items only not valid on specials. * based on availability - ask your server for details winnipegfreepress. com Winnipeg Free Press, July 17, 2015 C2 Sliding loonie puts pressure on Canada’s pro sports teams By Peter Henderson TORONTO — Not everyone is pleased by the announcement that American rap legend Kanye West will perform at the closing ceremony of the Pan Am Games in Toronto. An online petition asking the organizing committee to change its mind had garnered about 20,000 supporters as of Thursday afternoon on change. org. By way of contrast, a petition calling for the reinstatement of a conservation officer in B. C. who was fired for refusing to kill two orphaned bear cubs had more than 240,000 signatures. Pride The petition against West’s appearance says the Games have triggered a sense of pride in the city, and the petition aims simply “ to ask a proud Torontonian ( or even a Canadian for that matter) to perform instead on July 26.” Among those suggested in the petition are Drake, Walk Off The Earth, Feist and Metric. “ Kanye West’s words and conduct are antithetical to the spirit of the Pan- Am Games,” one person wrote on the petition. “ Canada abounds in musical talent that is undoubtedly better- suited for this event and should be featured at the closing ceremonies.” Not everyone agreed. News that West would appear at the Games was met with jubilation by some of his Toronto fans. “ PRAISE YEEZUS!” exalted one fan on Facebook in reference to West’s last album. Toronto rapper Maestro, who performed at the opening ceremonies, also noted that West is an international phenomenon. Shoutout “ It would have been nice to see a Canadian, but you know what, that’s a staple for hip hop right there, so a shoutout to Kanye, a shoutout to Canada,” he said on CBC TV. The head of the Games organizing committee said it’s too late to change the lineup — the contracts have already been signed through Live Nation, a concert promoter and Pan Am sponsor. Saad Rafi defended the decision to book West, saying “ major international- calibre events have international artists.” “ Let’s not forget, these are the Pan American Games, which include the Americas and the Caribbean. It’s highly appropriate to have artists from those countries of origin,” he said. Rafi stressed that closing ceremonies are meant “ predominantly for athletes” rather than the general public, adding that several athletes work out to West’s music. — The Canadian Press By Paola Loriggio CHARLES SYKES / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Kanye West is scheduled to perform at the Pan Am closing ceremony. Petitioners want more Canadian content T ORONTO — Canada’s Michelle Li is now a twotime Pan Am Games badminton champion. She thrilled her hometown crowd at the Atos Markham Pan Am/ Parapan Am Centre with a 2- 0 victory over fellow Canadian Rachel Honderich in today’s women’s badminton final. “ It is tough to have to beat a friend,” Li said. “ To see her lose, it’s not something I want. But I guess we’re both mature enough to know that when we’re on court, it’s for yourself.” Li, who won gold four years ago at the 2011 Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, defeated Honderich 21- 15, 21- 9. Li and Honderich teamed up together to win doubles bronze earlier in the week. “ It’s tough because we both know each other’s games so well,” Honderich said. Canada’s Toby Ng and Alex Bruce settled for silver in the mixed doubles final. They dropped a 21- 9, 21- 23, 21- 12 decision to Americans Phillip Chew and Jamie Subandhi. Canadian Andrew d’Souza took silver in the men’s singles final after losing to Guatemala’s Kevin Cordon 21- 13, 21- 14. “ He didn’t let me really play at the net when I wanted to,” d’Souza said. “ He didn’t let me take the attack. He’s very good at keeping his attack and I just had a lot of trouble getting out of it when I played him.” Canada’s medal count rose to 97 with Thursday’s results. The Canadians lead the medal haul at the Games once again after falling behind the United States. Canada has earned 38 gold, 36 silver and 23 bronze thus far. The U. S. had 96 total medals as of Thursday night, including 34 gold. The Canadians men’s and women’s team sprint teams took double gold at the first day of track cycling at the Cisco Milton Pan Am/ Parapan Am Velodrome. Hugo Barrette of Cap- aux- Meules, Que., Victoria’s Evan Carey and Joseph Veloce of St. Catharines. Ont., edged Venezuela in 44.241 seconds in the men’s race while Kate O’Brien and Monique Sullivan topped Cuba in 33.959 seconds in the women’s team sprint. “ I couldn’t believe the support on every home backstretch you went on,” O’Brien said. “ You just heard masses of screaming and so to have family and friends and Canadians in general out and being able to support us at home was special.” Gaby Dabrowski and Carol Zhao added another gold medal to Canada’s tally, taking first place in women’s doubles tennis. They beat Mexico’s Victoria Rodriguez and Marcela Zacarias in three sets. In women’s wrestling, Genevieve Morrison won gold in the freestyle 48 kilogram division, beating Peru’s Thalia Mallqui. Canada’s streak of gold medals in the Pan American Games pool halted Thursday with a disqualification. Emily Overholt of West Vancouver, B. C., outtouched Caitlin Leverenz of the U. S. to finish first in the women’s 400- metre individual medley, but the youngest member of the Canadian swim team was disqualified for a “ non- simultaneous” wall touch during the breaststroke leg of the race. Swimming Canada appealed the disqualification, but it was upheld by officials. Leverenz took gold in in 4: 35.46, Canadian Sydney Pickrem was second in 4: 38.03 Canada’s women’s basketball team roared to a 101- 38 rout of Venezuela in its opening match of the Pan American Games. Seven Canadians scored in double figures, with Lizanne Murphy leading the way with 15 points. Shona Thorburn had 14, Kim Gaucher and Kia Nurse added 12 each, Nayo Raincock- Ekwune had 11, and Tamara Tatham and Katherine Plouffe chipped in with 10 apiece. In men’s baseball, London, Ont., native Brock Kjeldgaard drove in four runs as Canada secured the tournament’s top seed with an 11- 4 win over Puerto Rico. Chris Leroux of Mississauga, Ont., pitched six innings, allowing one earned run on three hits while striking out seven and walking two as Canada remained undefeated through five preliminary games. The Canadians close out round- robin action with a game against the U. S. today. Semifinals begin Saturday with the gold- and bronze- medal games scheduled for Sunday. In men’s golf, Canadian Austin Connelly was tied for fourth after shooting a 2- under 70 in the first round. Teammate Garrett Rank was 27th at 7- over 79. “ They say you can’t win on the first day, but you can certainly lose it,” Connelly said. “ I don’t feel like I lost it.” — The Canadian Press DARREN CALABRESE / THE CANADIAN PRESS Michelle Li of Canada beat teammate Rachel Honderich to repeat as Pan Am gold medallist in women’s badminton singles Thursday. Canada’s Li golden again Badminton star beats teammate to repeat as Pan Am champion NATHAN DENETTE / THE CANADIAN PRESS Genevieve Morrison waves to the crowd after winning the gold medal in the women’s freestyle wrestling. C_ 02_ Jul- 17- 15_ FP_ 01. indd C2 7/ 16/ 15 10: 40: 33 PM

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