SBD/September 9, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Anselmi Resigns After Consensus Is Reached That MLSE Does Not Need Two Presidents

Anselmi was disappointed when he was not named MLSE's next president & CEO
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment COO TOM ANSELMI on Friday "ended an eventful 17 years" with the company by announcing his resignation, a move made in part because MLSE Owners Bell Media and Rogers Communications hired TIM LEIWEKE to "fill the big CEO chair" instead of him, according to Lance Hornby of the TORONTO SUN. Anselmi starting in '96 "oversaw the delicate arena merger" with the Raptors at the Air Canada Centre, was MLSE COO, "point man for landing and later running [MLS Toronto FC] and, most recently, succeeding RICHARD PEDDIE as the growing sports and business empire’s president." Anselmi on Friday said of not being named MLSE's President & CEO in April, "Of course I was disappointed. But sometimes organizations need change and new owners get to decide it." He said that his decision "was not linked to Leiweke's major revamping" of MLS Toronto FC last week. Anselmi: "There were some highs and lows, but it was a privilege for a poor kid from West End Toronto to be president of a company like this" (TORONTO SUN, 9/7). The GLOBE & MAIL's Jeff Blair wrote, "There is no doubting Anselmi’s popularity both within the MLSE framework and within the local media community." He was an "accessible, thoughtful sports executive and did good work for the company in the area of facilities development and management." But "for most fans," Anselmi has "remained scarred by his experiences atop TFC" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/7).

NOT ENOUGH ROOM FOR THE BOTH OF US: Anselmi said, "There's only space for one president." In Toronto, Dave Feschuk cites sources as saying that Anselmi's departure was a "finishing touch to a Leiweke-led restructuring designed to eliminate what some have called a 'country-club' atmosphere at a money machine of a company." For all of Anselmi's "public failures" with Toronto FC, his "career has otherwise been a string of quieter successes" (TORONTO STAR, 9/7). Anselmi on Friday said, "When Tim came on board, he and I agreed to try and figure out whether (Anselmi and Leiweke could work together) while we worked through a transition. I wanted to make sure I was helpful and supportive in his transition. At the same time, let’s see if this can work. Let’s see if there’s a role (for me). Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that there wasn’t. ... Once you’ve done the (top) job, you want to keep doing that job." The NATIONAL POST's Eric Koreen noted Anselmi was the company’s president from September '12 through June, but while he "received Peddie’s president title, but he was not named CEO." Though he was a "significant player in the building of the Air Canada Centre and the formation of the company’s television stations and broadcast deals, the on-field failure of Toronto FC perhaps prevented him from a more permanent ascension." Toronto FC "was largely Anselmi's responsibility." Peddie said, "In Tom’s case, he has to wear TFC. It goes with the turf. I’m being fairly critical, just as I’ve been publicly critical of my job." Anselmi: "That’s one of the big disappointments. ... We didn’t get it right there, a couple of times." He said that "travelling, snowmobiling and renewing his TFC season tickets are on his immediate agenda." He added, "Who works anywhere for 17 years? Certainly not senior executives" (NATIONAL POST, 9/7).
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