Whither To, Canada?
In October 2011, the Canadian Soccer Association (CSA) commissioned Rethink to study and report back on the viability of a new men’s professional football league. Headed by former Canadian youth and national team player James Easton, the project was split into two phases. In phase I, we collected information on previous failed Canadian leagues, studied leagues in markets similar to Canada, and consulted with stakeholders at all levels of the game to gather information and possible design features for a new Canadian league. After analyzing and synthesizing our data we were able to identify four options, two of which we recommended to the CSA for further study in phase II of the project. In April 2012, after a four-month period of review, we received confirmation from the CSA that the Association was in full agreement with our recommendations from phase I and approval to move forward with phase II of the project. The summary report, which can be viewed below, is a précis of our findings and recommendations from both phases of the study.
The most recent effort to introduce professional football into the North American mainstream is MLS. After a challenging beginning, the league has since been able to establish a foothold in the region’s professional sport space. Given football’s tumultuous past in the U.S. and Canada, however, MLS’s continued ascendancy is far from assured. In an effort to support the league’s future potential and to better serve an increasingly sophisticated and demanding football public, MLS commissioned Rethink, along with a select number of other commentators, to examine the level of play during the 2010 regular season. The goal was to identify existing strengths to ensure they are perpetuated, while also looking for ways to improve the league’s overall appeal and spectacle. Rethink's findings were instrumental in MLS adopting the use of vanishing spray to mark the place where the ball and the defensive wall should be located on free kicks, and the league walking back its decision to do away completely with the minimum Canadian player quota for its Canadian teams. A summary of the observations and recommendations contained in our full report, "A Review In 52 Matches," can be read below.
Worth Shooting For?
The San Jose Earthquakes is one of Major League Soccer’s original ten founding teams. At the end of 2009 season, the Earthquakes announced their intentions to build a new scalable 18,000 SSS on 14-acres of land near San Jose International Airport. The new stadium, which is estimated to cost between $50-$60 million, is to be built using a mix of private equity and debt financing. Before committing the significant resources needed to begin construction, the Earthquakes engaged Rethink to conduct a review and evaluation of existing SSS projects within MLS. Specifically, the Earthquakes wanted to know whether the purported benefits of developing a SSS that were forecast prior to construction of other MLS stadia had translated through to the bottom-line performance of the clubs and resulted in an uptick in franchise values in the season(s) following their completion.
Long Range Goals
The statistics on aboriginal unemployment, poverty, health status and family breakdown are well documented. There are no quick fix solutions; however, studies have shown that sport can play a positive role in helping transform a community, even in the face of these societal scourges. Rethink worked with the Lil’wat First Nation to jump-start the community’s youth football program and to develop a cultural and football trip to the United Kingdom in 2006. To be eligible to go, the young players first had to pledge to stay in school, not use drugs or alcohol, and to learn the traditional language, stories and songs of the Lil’wat people. For the majority of the group, it was their first time on an airplane. Many of those who went on the trip have since gone on to become leaders in the community. Rethink will be conducting a similar tour in the upcoming year, and is now in negations with a U.S. production company to develop a documentary about the trip and its impact on the community.