MLSE's Leiweke Gets First Corporate Deal With 10-Year Canadian Tire Sponsorship
MLSE and Canadian Tire yesterday announced a 10-year retail and sponsorship agreement that is "the first major corporate transaction MLSE has completed" since President & CEO Tim Leiweke took over in late June, according to Morgan Campbell of the TORONTO STAR. The deal "will have local impact," as Canadian Tire next year "will take over the Real Sports apparel store at Maple Leaf Square" and make it the flagship location for its Sport Chek brand of stores. The deal also "will have national scope, with Canadian Tire and Sport Chek hoping to capitalize on the Raptors’ growing popularity in Canadian markets." Leiweke said that the agreement "heralds a shift in the company’s goals." MLSE is "pursuing multiplatform partnerships, which Leiweke thinks can turn its sports teams into global brands." Leiweke said, "We have to take on a bigger mantle, and I want the Leafs to be seen like the Cowboys and the Yankees." The new arrangement will include "boutiques within selected Canadian Tire stores selling apparel from MLSE teams," as well as "exclusive video content produced by MLSE and published on Sport Chek websites and in interactive displays at Sport Chek stores" (TORONTO STAR, 9/10). Leiweke: "I'm very loyal now to Canadian Tire. This has a lot to do with the fact that it's a Canadian company." The GLOBE & MAIL's Marina Strauss notes Canadian Tire "replaces troubled home improvement specialist Rona." Leiweke said that after Rona "bowed out of the sponsorship in its bid to save costs, 'several' other retailers vied to take its place." The new partnership "will involve Canadian Tire’s namesake brand as well as Mark’s, Partsource, National Sports, Pro Hockey Life and Atmosphere, all retailers it owns." Canadian Tire "will run MLSE apparel shops in some of its flagship stores, and Mark’s will become the official uniform provider for MLSE staff at Air Canada Centre" (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/10).