Connor Bedard is big business for the Western Hockey League
Connor Bedard has been taking the hockey world by storm, selling out multiple games on the Regina Pats Alberta road trip, but has the Western Hockey League (WHL) reckoned with his impact?
“If you were to look at the overall contribution that he's making, to me, it would be in the millions of dollars,” said Edwards School of Business' Dean Keith Willoughby.
That added revenue comes through enhanced ticket sales, which in turn creates more money in parking, merchandise, concessions sales and other revenue streams, says Willoughby.
Bedard sold out the Saddledome last Wednesday, bringing in over 16,000 fans.
To put that into perspective — the Calgary Flames had only sold out the Saddledome four times prior to that.
On Friday, he sold out a game in Lethbridge forcing the club to start selling standing room-only tickets, and on Saturday packed Medicine Hat’s Arena with over 6,100 fans.
“There's a tremendous impact that Connor Bedard provides, obviously to the Western Hockey League, and more specifically to the Regina Pats,” Willoughby said.
His fame has built off his success at the nationally televised World Junior Championship, where he helped Team Canada capture a gold medal. He is a projected number one pick for the 2023 NHL Draft, creating a buzz fans want to see, according to CKM Sports Management agent Cliff Mander.
“He's getting obviously an awful amount of notoriety and I think something he's experiencing that he's going to remember for the rest of his life.”
Mander represents young NHL prospects and he says there could have been more done to maximize the monetization of the young superstar.
“I think there's definitely money still left on the table,” said Mander. “There's definitely opportunities for a player like him, no matter his age, whether it's cars, insurance, food, you name it. He's quite a large brand already.”
According to Mander, NHL players can make in the millions of dollars in endorsement deals, which Bedard could be in line for with the notoriety he is creating for himself in the WHL. Bedard is allowed endorsement deals right now.
Mander wants to see the governing body for the WHL, the Canadian Hockey League, do more to help players earn endorsements.
“I think this is a new conversation where there's a next level of marketing,” said Mander. “There's a next level of endorsements and financial rewards obviously for the player and their families that the leagues I think just have to acknowledge and get ahead of it.”
Bedard signed a Western Hockey League standard player agreement contract, which provides him with league exposure, and a fully guaranteed scholarship along with many other perks.
Mander argues Bedard’s value to the league is much more.
“I would say $1.5M,” he said.
After seeing the 17-year-old Bedard help many franchises increase revenue where he played, Mander says the next Bedard might have some leverage to gain a piece of the pie.
“The onus is on the league and the team to acknowledge that, and in special circumstances like this, and that they're open to it” said Mander. “Have those conversations with the players' representation and get ahead of it.”
Bedard and the Pats come to Saskatoon to take on the Blades March 19th.
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