SBD/July 25, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Leiweke Overhauls MLSE Business Operations In Latest Shakeup Since Taking Reins In April

Leiweke said the changes at MLSE were made to improve efficiency
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & CEO TIM LEIWEKE yesterday announced a restructuring of the company that centralizes the business operations of MLSE’s four franchises -- Maple Leafs, Raptors, MLS Toronto FC and AHL Toronto Marlies. MLSE’s senior management group is made up of COO TOM ANSELMI; CFO IAN CLARKE; Chief Commercial Officer DAVID HOPKINSON, in a new position; Chief Legal & Development Officer PETER MILLER; and Chief Facilities & Live Entertainment Officer BOB HUNTER. All are veteran MLSE execs who will report to Leiweke. Three senior VP jobs have been eliminated but the company did not disclose specifics. Leiweke said, "This leadership team is as strong as I have worked with in all of my years in the sports and entertainment industry. We have tremendous resources here at MLSE and this new company structure is driven by the need to make the best use of those resources while ensuring our fans and customers are always our highest priority." Hopkinson as Chief Commercial Officer oversees sales, marketing and communications for all MLSE properties. SHANNON HOSFORD will serve as VP/Marketing & Communications; JEFF DELINE is VP/Global Partnerships and TOM PISTORE is VP/Ticket Sales & Service. All report to Hopkinson. "This is not a turnaround," Hopkinson said. "Tim did want to restructure to garner efficiencies. You won't be talking to four different sales teams. We smashed those silos" (John Lombardo, Staff Writer).

SETTING THE TONE: Leiweke said that the changes were "needed to improve efficiency, 'better serve' fans and customers, and focus on streamlined communication and interaction with its fans." MLSE said that a "number of areas of the business will be reallocated to improve efficiency, but didn’t provide details about what those changes ... may mean." The CP reported, "A cached version of the MLSE executive web page showed three names have been pulled." Senior VP/Content & Communications CHRIS HEBB, Senior VP/Ticket Sales & Service BETH ROBERTSON and Senior VP/People MARDI WALKER "have all been removed." MLSE "only confirmed the departure of Hebb from the company" (CP, 7/24). The GLOBE & MAIL's Jeff Blair writes, "Leiweke’s tenure has so far been marked by bold pronouncements of intent that have garnered him his share of off-season headlines and criticism." He has "particularly touched sensibilities with a stated intent to give less prominence to representations of the Maple Leafs’ history, reasoning that after 46 years without a Stanley Cup there is an element of historical fatigue." It is a "marked departure from the public face MLSE has shown in the past, and the city’s business community had been anticipating a day such as Wednesday for some time." While these moves "aren’t as sexy as the canning" of former Raptors President BRYAN COLANGELO, they are "seen as another element of Leiweke’s imprimatur" on the $2.25B company (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/25).
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