With the Beijing Olympics now behind them, the Chinese are setting their sights on hosting a Winter Olympiad. And the San Jose Sharks are helping to lead the charge.
China hopes to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and becoming an international player in hockey, one of the Games’ glamour sports, would be a boon to its chances.
The Sharks’ parent company, Silicon Valley Sports & Entertainment (SVSE), announced Sept. 17 it has acquired the rights to professional hockey in China.
SVSE plans to build the game from the ground up in China and envisions cashing-in on the profits once a greater segment of the Chinese population takes hockey up.
Reports suggest SVSE has already put about $3 million into the China Sharks and Ken Arnold, the senior director of communications for the San Jose Sharks and SVSE, considers it money well spent.
“It’s sweat equity,” Arnold told TheHockeyNews.com Thursday. “We dump some money in now, make the in-roads. And as things take off, we’re the ones who get to build the rinks. We’re the ones who get to build the programs.”
SVSE has been running the China Sharks, the country’s lone entry in the Asian League, since last season. The Sharks are also China’s de-facto national team, which SVSE has a major role in developing.
In essence, SVSE has purchased a first right of refusal for profit-building, hockey-related ventures in China. Not a bad investment considering the sports-mad country of about 1.3 billion people China has become.