SBD/October 24, 2013/Franchises

MLSE's Success Under Leiweke May Hinge On Toronto FC Rebuilding Project

Leiweke believes the addition of two key players could turn Toronto FC around
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President & CEO Tim Leiweke believes that MLS Toronto FC "is the easiest problem to fix" of the MLSE franchises, but if the team's rebuild "goes awry, that may not bode well for his other projects," according to Grant Robertson of the GLOBE & MAIL. Rebuilding the Maple Leafs and Raptors "are much-more complex feats to engineer, constrained by salary caps and draft picks." Leiweke and other MLSE execs last week traveled to Europe to scout possible additions to MLS Toronto FC, because he believes that "two key designated players can change the team's fortunes fast." The trip was "unlike the many unsuccessful recruiting drives" in years past, and was "perhaps more critical to the future of MLSE, since it will send a message about how serious" Leiweke is about rebuilding MLSE into a winner. Though Leiweke "isn't divulging which players the club is targeting, last week's recruiting trip took team executives to England and Italy." He acknowledged that Toronto FC "needs talent on the field more than it needs a brand name, so the focus will be on goal output and less about face recognition." Leiweke: "We are well beyond a star in name and brand only saving this franchise. ... I’m focused, and I’m pissed off. We need to solve this thing." He knows that MLSE has "never struggled to make money," so profit is "one of the few things he doesn't need to worry about." Leiweke: "There are a lot of things that work here, but I think the thing that is most important doesn't work here, which is we have to win" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/24).
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