SBD/Issue 64/Sports Industrialists

Richard Peddie Reflects On 13-Year Tenure As MLSE President & CEO

Peddie Says He Made Mistakes With Previous
GM Hires For Maple Leafs, Raptors

MLSE President & CEO Richard Peddie will step down from the company he has led for 13 years next December, and his "run has been unlike almost any other CEO's stewardship," according to Mary Ormsby of the TORONTO STAR. Ormsby: "Hero or villain, there's little dissent that Peddie's charge through Toronto's sleepy, old-school sports scene was dramatic, dynamic and often emotionally charged." Peddie "regrets hiring general managers John Ferguson Jr. and Rob Babcock, twin disasters for the Leafs and Raptors," and he noted he wished he had hired current Maple Leafs President & GM Brian Burke and Raptors President & GM Bryan Colangelo "earlier." Peddie: "They represent experienced winners and I hired rookies at the GM level." Peddie also "believes the Raptors would have folded in Toronto had the NHL and NBA teams not agreed to share one building." Peddie said RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie "made a lot of mistakes in Hamilton" in his efforts to lure the Predators. Peddie: "He did not do it right -- he started selling tickets using the (Predators) name. That's not how you do it. It is a league of partners and we (at MLSE) didn't have to say anything. Others noticed it. Do you want to have that kind of behaviour in our league?" Peddie said that UFC bouts at Air Canada Centre "will happen, now that legal blocks to mixed martial arts contests in Ontario have been removed." Ormsby noted MLSE's "newest gold mine" is Real Sports Bar & Grill, and Peddie said that there are "plans to test Real Sports as a restaurant chain within the next year." Peddie also said that soccer "will be 'big' with a multi-million dollar indoor/outdoor training facility" for Toronto FC "in Vaughan or at Downsview." Meanwhile, Peddie said the phone "has been ringing off the hook" with job offers since he announced his plans to retire from MLSE. Peddie said he wants to "write a book." Peddie: "There will be anecdotes from here, it won't be a kiss-and-tell. I love it here." Peddie added there will be "no dirty laundry stories" of MLSE Chair Larry Tanenbaum or late Maple Leafs Owner and MLSE Chair Steve Stavro, as Toronto journalists DAVE FESCHUK, MICHAEL GRANGE and DAVID SHOALTS "wrote those books" (TORONTO STAR, 12/12).

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