The man behind Toronto Wolfpack, the world’s first transatlantic rugby league club, has said he is in talks to launch two more teams in North America, with Boston and Hamilton reported to be in contention for the new franchises.
The Wolfpack has just concluded its debut season in the English rugby league system, winning League 1 to secure promotion to the second-tier Championship. Eric Perez told UK broadcaster the BBC that he is in advanced talks with two professional sports clubs, believed to be in Hamilton and Boston, and will begin negotiations with the Rugby Football League (RFL), governing body of the sport in England, in the next few days.
Perez said he is targeting 2019 and 2020 as launch dates for the new teams, adding: “I'm hoping that within the next six months we can make a formal announcement. I can't really say where they are right now.
“I don't know where the Hamilton rumour came from, but it would be a logical choice. Hamilton is about an hour away from Toronto. There's about a million people in the area, but between Toronto and Hamilton there are 12 million people. I can't confirm or deny (Boston), but you are very well informed. It's a good speculation, but there could be other cities in the mix.”
Perez said the two teams would form part of wider plans to add up to six clubs in North America, amid efforts to boost the commercial power of the top-tier Super League. “When we started this journey, we knew that one team is not enough to yield what you need to yield from the market,” he said. “To bring revenues, to really start bringing new money into the sport you've got to have multi-markets.
“Now that Toronto is up and running and in a very good place – definitely the strongest team commercially outside of Super League – it's time to fulfil that destiny and get the next teams set up. I've decided to partner up with other professional sports teams that own their markets, so they already have the infrastructure and the expertise set up which will make it easier.
“Toronto was the first of its kind, so a test project. There were a lot of mistakes made and a lot of lessons learned. By partnering with these other professional teams, I think we will find an easier road to success.”
Perez added: “We are looking to make Super League the most commercially viable competition, apart from the Premiership, that plays in the northern hemisphere. To do that you need to have more North American markets, at least five or six clubs in the next 10 years.”