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Project 8 Adds Canadian Tire As Founding Partner

By on March 6, 2023 0 1365 Views

The women’s professional soccer league aiming to launch in 2025 has landed a third corporate partnership through Canadian Tire, who join CIBC and Air Canada as the league’s founding partners.

The new partnership comes through Canadian Tire’s newly-announced Women’s Sport Initiative, a company-led multi-million dollar investment which aims to earmark a minimum of 50% of its sponsorship dollars towards women’s professional sports by 2026.

The league hopes to launch with eight teams a year prior to that deadline, with two locked in so far through the Vancouver Whitecaps and Calgary Foothills. The league is still awaiting a commissioner and, of course, a more formalized name than Project 8.

Canadian Tire’s Women’s Sport Initiative also includes a dedicated media fund to increase the visibility of all things women’s sport through broadcast, digital, and social platforms, though it’s unclear if any of that portion of the sponsorship funding will reach Project 8. Thus far, it looks like the league will be using Dome Productions, a Bell and Rogers subsidiary used for major league sports broadcasts.

“Canadian Tire Corporation is proud of our longstanding commitment to gender equity and inclusion in sport, from the playground to the podium and now, to the professional arena with the introduction of our Women’s Sport Initiative,” says Canadian Tire executive Susan O’Brien. “Helping to pave the way for more equitable opportunities in women’s professional sport and inspire a new generation of female athletes is part of how we are bolstering our communities and living our brand purpose: we are here to make life in Canada Better.”

The company has announced simultaneous partnerships with five organizations in all, with the WBNA, the Canadian Women and Sport’s Commercial Women’s Sport Initiative, Toronto Metropolitan University Future of Sport Lab, and espnW Summit Canada all also adding Canadian Tire as a sporting partner in addition to Project 8.

Canada Diana Matheson
Photo Credit: Canada Soccer

Project 8 hopes to have the league sanctioned by Canada Soccer in 2024, though league CEO Diana Matheson hopes to see the league become a member of Canada Soccer by 2023.

“It’s time to change the narrative and inspire the next group,” Matheson had said when the league unveiled itself in December. “I believe kids need to see it to believe that it’s possible to happen. With the launch of this league, kids will be able to go into their own backyard and watch their heroes play and dream of one day representing their hometown professional club, and maybe representing Canada.”

Matheson aims to secure teams from coast-to-coast for the six remaining markets, earmarking the necessity of a team in central Canada, Quebec, and the Atlantic. It’s estimated that it will cost a club between $8-10 million to buy into the league, which intends to operate to a salary cap and designated player structure similar to MLS, with a minimum salary akin to the NWSL’s $35,000.

Matheson’s venture isn’t the only professional female soccer league in the works, with the Canadian Premier League – who also have CIBC as a sponsor – having put building blocks for a pro women’s league in place behind the scenes. It’ll be interesting to see how the market takes shape over the next few years.

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