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SBD/March 20, 2014/Franchises
IMG World Congress Of Sports: Leiweke Bullish, Defiant On MLS Toronto FC's Future
Published March 20, 2014
NOT SORRY FOR HIS COMMENTS: Leiweke generated controversy when he took over the job and called the MLSE teams “losers,” but he said he has no regrets. “Our teams, our players, our coaches, our fans are now talking about winning,” he said. The comment "provoked a conversation and a mindset they were afraid to have in the past.” Leiweke noted that Toronto FC now has its first winning record in history. “It’s good we set the tone,” he said. While the former AEG exec's move from L.A. to Toronto has not been without its hiccups, he joked that the biggest learning curve had been the weather. Outside of that, he said that he failed to fully appreciate how large the Toronto market was before he took the job. He underestimated it. “It’s the third largest market in North America,” he said. “It’s a uniquely poised capital market to do some remarkable things going forward. I had no idea it was that big, that dynamic, a marketplace” (Tripp Mickle, Staff Writer).
LEVEL WITH THE LEAFS? In Toronto, Steve Buffery asks now that TFC "seems to be on the verge of decency, how much bigger will the fan support become?" Team MF Jonathan Osorio indicated that if the club "lives up to expectations, and maintains a winning tradition, TFC will someday rival the Maple Leafs in terms of support in this town." Buffery notes the city of Toronto "is ever-changing, and many of the newcomers in this city originate from places where soccer is king." On top of that, "more and more kids are playing the game." Soccer has, "in fact, surpassed hockey in terms of overall participation numbers." But, no matter how much MLS "grows, the league will likely never have what the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL have, which is they are the very best leagues in their respective sport." The fact that the NFL and MLB "are so ingrained in terms of their fan base will always make it tough for MLS to reach its potential" (TORONTO SUN, 3/20).