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SBD/November 28, 2011/Franchises
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment No Longer For Sale Despite Interest From BCE, Rogers
Published November 28, 2011
SKATING AWAY: In N.Y., Josh Kosman wrote Hockey HOFer Wayne Gretzky “has been shut out in his attempt to have his investor group gain control” of MLSE. A source said that Gretzky, “who fronted private-equity powerhouse Providence Equity Partners and its $1.5 billion offer … had their shot at NHL ownership slapped aside” by league Commissioner Gary Bettman. The source said that Bettman “would not bend the league rules that allow a team owner to borrow only up to 50 cents for every dollar of team value -- and rejected the offer.” However, another source said that it “was not the NHL that slapped away the Gretzky/Providence bid” (N.Y. POST, 11/26). Gretzky's agent, Darren Blake, yesterday said that Providence "never approached him and the other groups that did were 'people kicking tires.'" The GLOBE & MAIL's David Shoalts reports almost "all of the discussions -- and they were all informal -- about Gretzky taking a role with MLSE were with" Toronto-Dominion Bank, a company Gretzky endorses (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/28).
WHAT'S NEXT? In Toronto, Rick Westhead cited sources as saying that MLSE “is planning to move ahead and develop a regional sports channel that would show Maple Leafs, Raptors and Toronto FC games.” The “surest sign that Maple Leaf Sports is plotting a new network is the company’s hiring” of sports media consultant Ed Desser, who has helped Time Warner plan its own RSN in L.A. Several TV execs said that a Maple Leaf Sports channel "could expect to get about" C$1.50 per subscriber "at most in its first contract." While the channel “might show Maple Leafs and Raptors games during the winter … it’s unclear what the channel would broadcast during the summer months.” Meanwhile, sports industry execs said that “a search committee formed by Maple Leaf Sports to find its next chief executive is considering” former Canadiens President Pierre Boivin for the job. MLSE President & CEO Richard Peddie “will retire by year’s end” (TORONTO STAR, 11/27). The GLOBE & MAIL's Shoalts reports the "front-runner internally" is Exec VP & COO Tom Anselmi, who "will either be named acting president or assume Peddie’s duties and keep his title as COO in a sort of audition for the top job until a permanent president is named." The rest of the management team "will remain in place" (GLOBE & MAIL, 11/27).