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SBD/September 6, 2013/Franchises
Leiweke Says Firing Of MLS Toronto FC's Payne Was Due To Differing Plans For Future
Published September 6, 2013
FORK IN THE ROAD: Leiweke said, "We have not been afraid of making some tough and difficult decisions. This one was the hardest one so far, simply because not only was Kevin fairly new here, but Kevin and I go back a long way." He confirmed that a search for a new GM has "already begun, and whoever replaces Payne will have to have MLS experience and know how to be able to exploit and master the intricacies of the league’s salary-cap system." Leiweke added, "We’ll steal a page from the NBA book here, and whoever we bring in, one of the disciplines and the scope they’ll have is (being) a capologist." SPORTSNET.ca's John Molinaro noted Payne, who was hired in November, leaves Toronto "with the fan base even angrier than when he arrived" (SPORTSNET.ca, 9/5).
CFL AT BMO FIELD? Leiweke said that MLSE is "looking at whether BMO Field can be refitted to accommodate" a CFL game. He said the project currently was at an "information-only stage." He added that the idea is "part of a larger plan to see how the lakefront stadium can be improved." Leiweke: "To me it's not a debate of whether you do football or not. It's a debate about if it's the CFL, can you design the stadium so that it grows for the CFL and shrinks back down to its current intimacy for soccer?" The CP's Davidson noted the Argonauts and Rogers Centre "agreed on a new lease" prior to the '13 season. Leiweke said that "no decision has been made on changing the BMO Field set-up but there is talk underway to see what could be accomplished" (CP, 9/5). Meanwhile, in Toronto, Bill Lankhof writes a possible MLSE purchase of the Argos "would bring the Argonauts benefits," as the organization "has money, connections and power in the corporate community." However, it also could "turn into corporate synergy run amok." Depending on MLSE's intentions, "it could make the Argonauts the jewel in the crown of the CFL -- or, alternatively, spell the demise of a league that has been part of the Canadian mosaic for more than a century." Sources said that MLSE's "ultimate goal is to bring an NFL team to Toronto." And there "could be no darker day than that for the CFL." The NFL in Toronto "is the CFL's death-knell" (TORONTO SUN, 9/6).