Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. (MLSE) is the owner and operator of the Toronto Maple Leafs National Hockey League team, Toronto Raptors National Basketball Association team, Toronto FC Major League Soccer team, and Toronto Marlies American Hockey League team—all based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In addition to owning these franchises as well as Leafs TV, Raptors NBA TV (the official television channels of the Maple Leafs and Raptors respectively), and GolTV Canada, MLSE is also involved in property management, including ownership of the Air Canada Centre, the home arena of the Maple Leafs and Raptors.
The corporation's roots were established in 1927, after Conn Smythe purchased Toronto's premier hockey franchise that had earned Stanley Cup championships in 1918 (as the Toronto Arenas) and 1922 (as the Toronto St. Pats), and renamed it the Maple Leafs. In 1931, a corporate reorganization resulted in the formation of Maple Leaf Gardens Ltd. (MLGL), with the Maple Leafs hockey team as the leading subsidiary.
Supermarket tycoon Steve Stavro led a group to buy the Maple Leafs from the estate of the late Harold Ballard in 1991. Larry Tanenbaum became a partner in 1996 with a 25% stake in MLGL. MLGL purchased the Toronto Raptors and Air Canada Centre in 1998, at which time the company adopted its present name. Stavro sold his stake to CTVglobemedia in 2003, and the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan assumed controlling interest based on equity under the new ownership structure, with Tanenbaum taking over as non-executive chairman. On December 5, 2008, CTVglobemedia sold half of its 15% stake to Tanenbaum, making Tanenbaum the second-largest stakeholder. Each owner of MLSE has first right of refusal on any shares sold.
In April 2008, MLSE was reported to be worth $1.75 billion United States dollar, according to a valuation commissioned by the company and cited by the Toronto Star. In addition, the Toronto Star reported that MLSE was considering the purchase of an English Premier League soccer team.
It was announced on January 23, 2009, that MLSE will acquire Insight Sports' interest in GolTV, a Canadian digital cable channel devoted to soccer.
On August 20, 2009, Teachers' announced that it agreed to purchase the remaining 7.7% stake in MLSE owned by CTVglobemedia. The transaction is pending league approval.
In November 2009, MLSE applied to the CRTC for a Category 2 digital TV license to operate a general interest sports service provisionally named Mainstream sports.
As of 2009:
- 66% – Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan
- 20.5% – Kilmer Sports Inc. (owned by Larry Tanenbaum)
- 13.5% – Northleaf Capital Partners
On November 1, 2009, TD Bank spun off its private equity arm (TD Private Capital) to the managers of the fund. The firm is now called Northleaf Capital Partners which will assume the 13.5% stake owned by its predecessor TD Private Capital.
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Ltd. Board of Directors:
- Larry Tanenbaum – Kilmer Sports (non-executive chairman of the board)
- Richard Peddie – President and CEO
- Robert Bertram – Senior Advisor, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan
- Erol Uzumeri – Teachers' Private Capital
- Glen Silvestri – Teachers' Private Capital
- Robert MacLellan – Northleaf Capital Partners
- Dale Lastman – Goodmans LLP
- Toronto Maple Leafs professional hockey team (2009 value: $470 million USD (1st in the NHL))
- Toronto Raptors professional basketball team (2009 value: $386 million USD (11th in the NBA))
- Toronto FC Major League Soccer team (2008 value: $44 million USD (2nd in MLS))
- Toronto Marlies American Hockey League team
- TFC Academy Canadian Soccer League team
- Air Canada Centre, a multi-purpose arena in downtown Toronto, Canada ($265 million)
- Leafs TV (Toronto Maple Leafs 24 hour specialty channel: the only channel in North America dedicated to one sports team.) and Leafs TV HD (an HD simulcast of Leafs TV)
- Raptors NBA TV (Toronto Raptors basketball specialty channel) and Raptors NBA TV HD (an HD simulcast of Raptors NBA TV)
- GolTV (80.1%) (Specialty soccer channel)
- Maple Leaf Square, a residential and commercial real estate development (to be completed by 2010)
- Note that the valuations done by Forbes are not based on actual numbers provided by MLSE. In 2003, MLSE was internally valued at over $1 billion CAD by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan in its annual report. The December 2008 sale of 7.5% of the company to Larry Tanenbaum for $90 million values the company at $1.2 billion.
Sports facility management
- Vardi, Nathan. Winning Isn't Everything , Forbes, 2007-11-16.