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Volume 26 No. 177
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Raptors' Title Shows Toronto's Strength As Basketball Market

During the Finals, Raptors fans would pack the team's Jurassic Park outside Scotiabank Arena
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
During the Finals, Raptors fans would pack the team's Jurassic Park outside Scotiabank Arena
Photo: GETTY IMAGES
During the Finals, Raptors fans would pack the team's Jurassic Park outside Scotiabank Arena
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The Raptors' first NBA title should impact the business side of MLSE's operations by "elevating the basketball team's stature and appeal in a hockey-mad city where it's often all things" Maple Leafs, "all the time," according to Scott Soshnick of BLOOMBERG NEWS. Former MLSE President & CEO Richard Peddie said, "If they can get the Raptors equal to the Leafs, that would be a big jump in revenue." He added that the "biggest and most immediate revenue bump from the Raptors championship will come from luxury-suite leases." As for ticket revenue, Peddie said that it is "unlikely to yield a windfall," as he noted the Raptors had "already blown the doors off" season-ticket renewals (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 6/14). THE RINGER's Danny Chau wrote suddenly, the Raptors are a "monolith in Toronto, something that could not have been possible until recently." The Raptors are "their own language in the city, but the message has expanded" (THERINGER.com, 6/14). THE RINGER's Chris Almeida notes when the Raptors and the then-Vancouver Grizzlies played their inaugural seasons in '95, the organizations "were part of an experiment" to determine if the NBA could "come to a new country and make itself important." In Vancouver, the "answer was no." However, the Raptors "emerged as a team for new Torontonians" and the metropolis is "now a basketball city" (THERINGER.com, 6/17).

PRESIDENTIAL MATTERS: In DC, Candace Buckner cited a source as saying that despite some reports, the Wizards have "no imminent plans to request permission to speak" to Raptors President of Basketball Operations Masai Ujiri, nor has MLSE "arranged an offer at this time." For several weeks, "speculation has persisted about the Wizards’ interest in Ujiri." By late Thursday night, various news outlets "detailed the proposed offers" as close to $10M annually, six years for $60M or "even a percentage of ownership and control over other" Monumental properties (WASHINGTON POST, 6/15). The GLOBE & MAIL's Cathal Kelly wrote Ujiri "has it good in Toronto, where he is still under contract." He can "do what he likes" with the team. Rather than leaving, the "more likely scenario is that Ujiri stays in Toronto and gets the mother of all raises." But that "may be contingent on one small administrative task -- signing" Kawhi Leonard. Should he manage that, Ujiri "becomes the biggest dog in a league full of alphas" (GLOBE & MAIL, 6/14). YAHOO SPORTS' Alex Wong wrote what is "certain is that Ujiri has delivered on his mandate of turning the Raptors organization into one of the best in the league." He has "shown the willingness to make bold moves when it is required and exercise patience when necessary, and he’s brought the championship mentality he has preached from day one to the entire franchise" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 6/15).