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Habs 'recession-proof'

Canadiens anniversary merchandise is selling well. and the team even has an authorized special edition Monopoly game

 

By MIKE KING, The GazetteJanuary 9, 2009 8:03 AM

 

Being a sports monopoly with a merchandising power play extending to its own Monopoly board game has helped insulate the Montreal Canadiens from an economic slump affecting other teams and even entire leagues, a Concordia University marketing professor says.

 

"The Canadiens and the New York Yankees may be the only two franchises that are recession-proof," said Bruno Delorme, a sports marketing and management professor at Concordia's John Molson School of Business.

 

He called the century-old hockey team an anomaly in the sports world for its continued success during difficult financial times and offered reasons for the club's ability to remain prosperous.

 

First, there's the monopoly of being what Delorme described as "the only true professional North American-wide sports franchise" in town. Second, the team is celebrating its 100th anniversary this season, boosting its already rich heritage.

 

The official team boutique at the downtown Bell Centre has been expanded to accommodate additional souvenirs marking the centennial celebrations, items ranging from reproductions of vintage jerseys to an authorized special edition Habs Monopoly game.

 

Anniversary merchandise creates a large revenue stream, said Delorme, who admitted to "buying a brick myself" in reference to the 20,000 personalized bricks being sold in Centennial Plaza outside the Bell Centre.

 

The commemorative bricks, which can be inscribed with names and messages, range in price from $175 to $799 plus tax.

 

Struggling corporations like the Big Three U.S. automakers are drastically cutting back sponsorship dollars for sports - something Delorme said especially affects the National Basketball Association, National Football League, Major League Baseball and their teams. But the impact is less on the National Hockey League because "hockey is a more gate-driven sport."

 

Also playing in the Habs favour is a phenomenon Delorme pointed to: "when there's a recession, people tend to look to sports for escapism."

 

Asked to comment on Delorme's remarks, Donald Beauchamp, team vice-president of communications, said the privately owned Canadiens don't discuss the business side of the operation.

 

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