Production Schedules

The Toronto Raptors played their first few seasons (1995-99) in a curtained-off partition of the SkyDome, a large multi-purpose sports facility with a retractable roof normally used for baseball and football games. The space was clearly inappropriate as a long term solution for the team, since the spatial requirements of baseball and football are so dramatically different than those of basketball.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs were playing in a venerable old Maple Leaf Gardens on Carlton Street, a barn bursting with history and tradition, but sorely lacking in modern amenities and optimal revenue-generating potential. The parent company, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd., sorely required a new facility to maximize earnings from the Leaf faithful, and thus the twin desire was born for what would become the Air Canada Centre.

The spatial complementarity between basketball and hockey becomes evident in this new facility. Based on the similar sizes and shapes of the playing spaces of the two sports, the Air Canada Centre offers an ideal, flexible postmodern factory for the production of professional sporting events. Of course, the manufacture of professional sporting events is double jointed: not only do competing firms jointly produce a single sports contest, but in manufacturing said uncertainty-of-outcome, one also simultaneously produces data streams of statistical information and visual/aural images that help to objectively determine the validity of the outcome. Post split-off, we may refer to these products as the live affective experience of game attendance and the packaged sports media telecast.

In one "plant", the vertically-integrated Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment is able to coordinate and optimize production cycles for two different branded product lines (Leafs and Raptors) and joint product streams with its joint production partners and downstream partners — namely, the other teams with which they create games and the media networks that distribute packaged sports telecasts. For example, MLSE is able to schedule dates between hockey and basketball such that a Leafs production cycle occurs during the prime Saturday evening Hockey Night in Canada slot on CBC (usually versus another Canadian NHL franchise), while the production of a family-friendly Raptors game is reserved for Sunday afternoon on Rogers Sportsnet. Add to this production schedule intermittent cycles of Toronto Rock games — box lacrosse enjoying roughly the same spatial demands as basketball and hockey — and the efficiencies appreciate even more dramatically.

Production Schedule

Understanding that the site of production also constitutes a site of consumption, with no delay between the two, leads to one final observation: while the production schedules of capitalist manufacturers were once a closely guarded secret as they contained intelligence that could be leveraged by a competitor, the production schedules of sports capital must be made publicly available as they also serve an important function in consumption.

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  1. Josh Heisler says:

    I agree that the Raptors needed a place to play other than the Skydome. It is impractical for the sport being played and the shape of the field. It would be easier to maximize revenue in a place of their own or at least a facility that that can maximize seats, in turn maximizing profit. The Air Canada Center was the perfect solution to the problem. As said in the post the shapes are some what the same and it is just a matter of making the schedules work. Making the schedules public was the best thing that could happen because now people can plan on going to games in more in advance. Also, to me I do not see how it helps knowing who you are playing that much in advance because both in hockey and basketball you play so many games in a week that knowing at the start of the season does not give you much of an advantage. Lastly, having to schedule many different events in the same location allows for a variety of different sports enthusiasts to use the facility as much as possible. The building was not free and having more events brings in more money, and plus it gives many extra people a job to switch the stadium from hockey to basketball to lacrosse.