The NBA capped three days of events with the annual All Star Game Sunday night in Toronto, Canada, marking the first time ever that the event was held outside the United States. Flawless execution and player enthusiasm reinforced Toronto’s image as a top destination for the sports community. All Star legend LeBron James credited Toronto for a superb performance, saying “Toronto did a hell of a job of putting on a show.” The event’s logo featured another icon, the CN Tower, the tallest building in North America. The All Star Games success followed last summer’s admired presentation of the Pan American Games and meetings of almost all international sports federations. Put it all together and you get one of the best brands in sports business.
Toronto’s distinctive heritage as part of the British Commonwealth and magnet for newcomers from around the world have given the Toronto area breadth of local sports expertise that few cities can match. It is the only Canadian city to host teams in all major league sports:
- NHL Toronto Maple Leafs
- MLB Toronto Blue Jays
- NBA Toronto Raptors
- MLS Toronto FC
- CFL (Canadian Football League) Toronto Argonauts
In addition, the University of Toronto fields teams in forty-three different intercollegiate sports leagues. The University of Toronto, ranked the best university in Canada, is one of the few major research universities in the world to supports sports as a major field of study on a par with medicine or engineering. Its Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education offers both undergraduate and graduate programs. The program has a sports medicine clinic and one of the only research laboratories in the world dedicated to the study of sports science located at its Goldring Centre facility. The local province of Ontario also ranks sports high on its agenda. There is a cabinet level position for Culture and Sport, currently under the leadership of Michael Couteau.
Toronto’s setting on the shores of Lake Ontario is well situated for exceptional water sports variety. Sailing, windsurfing, rowing, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing and kite surfing are all easily accessible. The lakeside setting is also a plus for leisure sports like golf and tennis. The ATP World Tour visits Toronto every summer on the way to the U.S. Open..
Toronto’s large variety of sports teams, sports events, and sports facilities also give it an unusually large and experienced labor pool for sports business projects, on a par with New York and Los Angeles. The volunteer network built for the 2015 Pan American Games remains active and is a popular resource for organizers of other events. As last weekend’s NBA All Star events show, nothing succeeds like success.