Following the Rudy Gay trade, Bryan Colangelo went on record with some tantalizing and very out-of-character statements. This most buttoned-down and careful executive said he is willing to exceed the salary cap, and he may not be finished upgrading our roster. I haven’t been able to push those words out of my mind, and I believe I've finally come to a conclusion as to their origin and significance.
The Toronto Blue Jays have rolled into spring training as the pundits’ choice to win their division, and possibly much more. Some astonishing off-season trades and free-agent signings (which have ballooned the Jays’ payroll from $ 80M in 2012 to $ 125M for the upcoming season) have bumped the team from also-ran to favourite. The deals have electrified the city of Toronto, and led to tremendous excitement even among non-baseball people who just want their city to have a winning team once again. The Raptors’ new owners, the shotgun-wedding consortium of major content providers Bell & Rogers, are certain to have sat up and taken serious notice of the Blue Jays’ interest spike. How could they not – Rogers owns the Blue Jays and the
concrete bunker retractable roof stadium they play in! I’ll warrant the suits are already salivating at the additional advertising and gate revenue they will realize now the Jays are a hot ticket.
Bryan Colangelo, savvy businessman that he is, no doubt has challenged his corporate masters along these lines: “You allow me the same degree of open wallet that Paul Beeston and Alex Anthopoulos received, and I’ll deliver similar results. I can drive our revenue through the roof, not just from ticket sales [20 second timeout: the Raps attendance is 88.1% of capacity, well down from the vintage years of Air Canada Carter, though still respectable for a team with a losing record for years] but through playoff tickets and TV and internet revenue. With extra funds at my disposal, I’ll trade us into the playoffs…maybe not this season, but for many to come. So tell me now – can I break the budget like the Jays did?” I believe he got a positive reply, hence the sudden willingness to spend.
I don’t often discuss the Raps’ finances on this site. We’re basketball fans, not bean counters. However, Rapture Nation, in this case I think what is happening is too important to ignore.
The Raps went into the All-Star break on a 4-game win streak, which they will try to push to 5 tomorrow night in Washington against the improving Wizards. The trade deadline, as we all know, is midnight on the 21st, and I’m going to largely disregard salary-cap issues when analyzing possible Raptors deals. Can Colangelo complete a big, budget-buster of a trade to bring in another established star? If he does, he may galvanize the attention of Toronto fans, and convince them the Raps are serious about once again being a major player in the large, intense and lucrative Toronto sports market.
Brian Boake is a co-editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.