LEAFS NEGOTIATE WITH MOLSON TO MAKE RECORD TV DEAL
The Maple Leafs are "ready to cash in on their popularity"
as negotiations continue for the team's local TV rights,
according to Rob Longley in today's TORONTO SUN. Sources said
Leafs Owner Cliff Fletcher is seeking $15M per season, a figure
that would top the Blue Jays' current $12M deal. IMG, which is
negotiating for the Leafs, has been in talks with Molson, which
owns exclusive national TV rights to the NHL in Canada. Talks
with Molson "haven't exactly been smooth, but for the time being
at least, the brewery is the only major player. If it wins the
rights, Molson will then vend the games to the station or
stations that will carry them." While Molson may be involved as
a sponsor, it is possible Molson's production wing, Molstar, "may
have a reduced presence in a new deal." Fletcher reportedly
wants to see the team take a more active role in the production
of the games. Longley writes the presence of IMG is "a
potentially intimidating one for the rights holders." IMG has a
large presence in sports marketing throughout the world, and is
"becoming aggressively involved with certain NHL teams,"
including the Leafs (TORONTO SUN, 2/17).